This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Let's say you're Kevin O'Connor and, with the permission of Jerry Sloan and Larry Miller, you have the power to change the Jazz's future during this offseason. What would you do? Something bold? Something brash? Something big? Or nothing at all? Here are a few considerations:
* Trade Carlos Boozer.
Many, including Boozer himself, were disappointed in his playoff performance, which fell off dramatically at the offensive end. Think about the success the Jazz may have seen against the Lakers had the All-Star power forward actually played the way he did a postseason ago. It could have made the difference. On the other hand, his defense was not good, and never has been.
But the "trade Boozer" notion has less to do with any of that and more to do with the option he can exercise at the end of next season to become an unrestricted free agent. Boozer can walk away from the Jazz and sign with whichever club he chooses, according to the terms of his contract. Rumor is that the Miami Heat are preliminarily making him a priority target.
Considering Boozer has a home in south Florida, and his child's health condition reportedly is aggravated by altitude, and remembering the way Boozer deserted the Cleveland Cavs to sign his current deal with the Jazz, is a trade the best way to protect themselves from any such scenario?
Boozer is too valuable a commodity to let jump ship with the only benefit back being more room under the salary cap. Conversely, if the Jazz were to attempt to trade him, any club wanting Boozer and willing to deal would have to worry about the same thing, namely: Can they re-sign him? Would that concern de-value Boozer, thereby not making the trade worthwhile?
It's notable - or is it, given his dubious track record? - that Boozer was so adamant that Deron Williams wouldn't be going anywhere, when questions about the point guard's future were put to Boozer on Saturday. Will the Williams-Boozer combo, then, become the long-term Jazz core, in the pattern of the Stockton-Malone duo of a generation earlier?
The most likely scenario is that Boozer will opt out of his contract and then re-sign with the Jazz. He can get max money that way, and avoid having to take less money with some other club. Most teams could not absorb a $13 million salary without blowing their cap space to smithereens.
One other option is for the Jazz to sign Boozer and then trade him.
* Understand that the Lakers will be around for a long time and deal for and with it.
The Jazz might want to study the Lakers and figure out what they have to have to beat that team. Easy to say, tough to do. Will Boozer always struggle against the longer Lakers? If so, that should figure in. How can they best position themselves to not get eliminated by L.A. every postseason for the next five years?
* Dump a boatload of cash on Williams and ride that wave.
The gifted point guard is clearly the key to the Jazz's future, and everybody knows it. Williams said recently that he would meet with his agent in coming weeks and try to work something out with the Jazz before he gets into his summer schedule of competing for Team USA at the Olympics.
The Jazz can't offer him an extension until July 1.
Williams could extend for five years at maximum money, gaining the security of a long deal, or he could do what LeBron James did and sign for fewer years, with less security, but then become an unrestricted free agent earlier, and hold out the possibility of grubbing even more cash at that time.
Best guess here is Williams will split the difference, extending for four years and allow himself a measure of flexibility to boot.
* Trade Andrei Kirilenko.
It has to happen - if not this year, next. Kirilenko is a max guy. Williams will be a max guy. If Boozer stays, he might be a max guy. The Jazz would be maxed out. On top of that, players such as Ronnie Brewer, who is in a similar situation as Williams, only a year behind and not quite as valuable, will have to be paid more.
Miller has said he is not interested in shelling out for the luxury tax - unless it would nearly guarantee him a title, and with the salaries where they are and where they will be in the near future, the financials add up too drastically to make much sense.
Kirilenko may be worth $7 million per season. He's definitely not worth the nearly $15 million he'll make next year. And, of course, therein is the trouble in getting rid of him. No other team wants to overpay a role player for another three seasons - Kirilenko will make $50 million over that span - even if he can benefit that team in some way.
Trading Kirilenko does create a major on-the-court problem in that he is the team's best defender. The Jazz are already a marginal defensive club, so where does that leave them without Kirilenko? A trade makes even more sense if the Jazz could unload AK and his salary, and gain in return a great defender. Good luck on that one.
* Obtain a forceful interior defensive presence.
O'Connor is painfully aware. When reminded of this glaring need, his response, paraphrased, went like this: "Go find me that guy."
* GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 1280 AM The Zone. He can be reached at email@example.com.