The image at the top might be overstating things a bit, but Jazz players and Jazz owners haven't wasted any time in getting out their respective message about what they want in the off-season.
Carlos Boozer got an early jump on things when back in December he stated,
I'm opting out. No matter what, I'm going to get a raise regardless. I am going to opt out, I don't see why I wouldn't, I think it's a very good business decision for me and my family, but I'd also like to see what happens with the Jazz and stay here.
This statement came after a rare Jazz road win and a 20-point comeback at that. The timing of his statement couldn't have been worse. He's made numerous PR bloopers like this. I just watched this Seinfeld last night and it applies to Booze. Just replace psychiatrist with PR team (and some other mods):
What were you thinking? What was going on in your mind? Opting out? Where, where did you come up with that? ... You know you really need some help. A regular PR guy couldn't even help you. You need to go to like Los Angeles or something. You know what I mean? You need to get involved at the national level. Not just a one-time job either. No. You need a team. A team of PR reps working round the clock thinking about you, having conferences, observing you, like the way they did with Ron Artest. That's what I'm talking about because that's the only way you're going to get better.
Seriously, who's handling him? He needs someone around him whenever the press talks to him, someone where he can tell the person what he is going to say, and then that person tells him whether or not to say it - or he just translates for him. Something.
No one else said anything about their contracts until the season was over with.
Memo was the first to break the silence on his website:
Salt Lake City is our second home. However NBA is a business. I know this and my family has learned this. In the end some of the decisions made will be business decisions first. As Mehmet Okur I am ready to make some sacrifices to stay here. I will not be changing teams if there is a difference of $ 3-5 million in the total worth of the new contract. I belive my managers and I have let our feelings be known by the Jazz management. Whatever is in the best interest of the Jazz and my family and I let that happen.
There's no doubt that he's one of the top 10 centers in the NBA. A lot of the centers that get paid more than him got theirs while the gettin was good. Memo should be be making more than them, but he'll probably have to settle on a smaller increase in pay and maybe a little longer contract. He's stated time and time again that he wants to be here, including this bit from his website when asked about playing for the Jazz:
I want to play there. It is my first choice. When I signed with the Jazz I said that I want to play there and be productive enough to have jersey hung from the rafters. I still feel the same.
Memo will be back either with an extension or play out the rest of his current deal.
Korver, not wanting to be left out of the opting-out talk, spoke with an Iowa radio station and dropped these statements:
"I'm not trying to leave Utah because I don't like it."
"There's a few teams that would probably be a good fit for me."
"The next summer... there's going to be a lot of moves... it would be fun to be a compliment player to some of those teams."
"Coach Sloan... He's very old school..."
"Utah has done a very good job at getting guys that fix that system."
His statements could be interpreted a million different ways and has been. To me, he's saying, if I opt out, it's not going to be because I don't like the Jazz, Utah, etc. It's going to be because he thinks he has a better chance at a title with another team. If there's a chance that he could play with a big-time player, he wants that chance. He stated that he doesn't need the money anymore, but I think he's going to have to weigh what he's going to be able to get if he opts out vs. what he could possibly get next summer as a FA and that market vs. playing with a big name.
Jazz owner Greg Miller was quick to get some airtime with KSL and with Talkin' Sports over the weekend. Here's the KSL video:
The biggest statement to me was this one that he dropped on Boozer:
We'd love to have Carlos here. Carlos is a very talented player. I think he would be one who would be considered a marquee player. But I do have concerns about Carlos' defense and I have some concerns about his ability to lead the team.
A Jazz owner calling out their starting PF is nothing new. I think his statement though had a different intent than when LHM and Malone would go at it through the media. It was as if he were trying to play Jedi mind tricks with him and persuade him to opt out so that the Jazz wouldn't have his contract. Why else would he go on two different sports shows other than to make sure his message got out?
He's pretty much daring Boozer to follow through on his December promise to opt out. Carlos would make more money be it with the Jazz or some other team if he does. It sounded like GM was goading Booze into doing it.
He had nothing but praise for Millsap and also stated his fondness for Memo. It doesn't take much to read between the lines there.
He has valid points. Everyone has questioned his defense. I don't see him stepping up his D. It's something that at this point in his career, if he doesn't have it, he's not likely going to get it.
The leadership always bothered me as well because it was a self-proclaimed leadership on his part. To me, leadership is earned on the court. What you do there is what inspires other players to follow you. I think he desperately wants to be the leader, and he has the tools to be, but just play the game. If I were playing along side him, I would get tired of some of his antics on the floor. What if I wanted to yell "AND-1!!!" ? Stop saying that this is your team and that you're the leader and just do it.
The other big statement from that interview is that the Jazz would be willing to pay the luxury tax if it meant keeping the core guys together. What I take from that though was if Korver, Memo, and Boozer all stay, we'd be willing to go over the cap to keep Millsap. But if one or more opts out, then they're not going to do it.
The biggest reason why they could do this would be that Kirilenko's deal becomes an expiring contract next summer and could be moved a lot easier if needed. They also have to pay Brewer next season. A quick side note, if AK ends up retiring with the team, does his jersey get retired? I say yes.
With the 3 opt-outs having weighed in, the only person we haven't heard from yet is Paul Millsap. The speculator inside of me says the reason why is because Paul has already been told he's going to be back with the team regardless of what happens. Based on Miller's comments about him, about the luxury tax, and some alleged mid-season locker room conflicts, Millsap doesn't have to say anything at all. It's also a little against his nature to come out with something like that as well.
So here's what I hope happens in regards to the opt-outs and Millsap: Memo is re-signed. Millsap is re-signed. Korver goes. Boozer goes. The Jazz sign/trade a gunner at the 2 that can fill in for the scoring lost from Booze. This also take pressure off of Millsap to be a go-to guy. Move Ronnie B to the 3. Sign/trade a defensive big man to come off the bench.
Off the bench:
Defensive big man.
I would be happy going into next season with that. If it doesn't play out like that, I'll be having my own press conference and release.