...the Utah Jazz gave to me... "Boozer opting out"
I hope I don't spend too much time on this as it's been talked about ad nauseam. You can find plenty on SLC Dunk of the whole Boozer situation along with many other Jazz sites.
This is the quote that started it all,
I'm opting out. No matter what, I'm going to get a raise regardless
That came in December 2008 right after the Jazz had overcome a 22-point deficit against the Nets on the road. This of course also occurred while Boozer was out injured.
His next statement that inflamed the situation was when he was asked if he would be willing to come off the bench given Millsap's good play to which he replied,
I'm the starter, period.
He didn't even give the PC answer of "I'll do whatever coach asks" or "If it helps the team win..." It was a "hell, no I'm not coming off the bench" statement. Do you know who else used the "I'm a starter, period" quote? Stephon Marbury.
On one hand it's nice to have a player that will speak what he's thinking and not give you the fluff. But at this point, the Jazz were in a tailspin to end the season after having such a promising couple of months in February and March. This statement couldn't have helped things in what appeared to be a team with chemistry issues.
You know how the rest of the season played out.
You also know what the off-season was like. It became the Summer of Carlos and the traveling "I'd love to be on your team" talk show circuit.
First stop, Chicago, where he was sure he was going to end up. But wait, there's more. Maybe hoping that people in Chicago don't read Miami newspapers, he goes on to tell the Miami Herald that he would prefer to play for the Heat.
Boozer in both of those interviews stated that he and the Jazz had mutually agreed to part ways and that the Jazz were going to trade him. He also stated that the Jazz had told him that he was not in their long-term plans. What's weird is that according to David Locke, that conversation never took place.
Even Pat Riley was weirded out by Boozer's statements.
So who's to believe? I actually believed Carlos when he said it because it made sense. The Jazz had stated before that they were going to do everything they could to keep Paul Millsap, even if it meant paying the luxury tax (man, they didn't know the foreshadowing that was happening there). Whatever happened, it all seemed to be a game being played between the Jazz and Boozer in the press. The Jazz also stated that they weren't going to trade Boozer for nothing. They were going to have to get something of equal value in return. If not, they were content with just letting Boozer's contract come off the books.
But as the summer faded, the realization that Boozer was going to remain with the Jazz crept in. After Boozer's comments in Chicago, he was as good as gone. At least that's what it looked like to everybody else. But as training camp neared, it became almost a certainty that he was going to be back.
A few things happened that made that happen. First, the Jazz didn't feel that the trade offers they were getting was enough. Second, Boozer's yapper probably put a damper on things. Finally, the market just wasn't there for him to get a long-term deal. The recession hit everyone. Almost every team was trying to get under the cap for 2010. The cap was also lower and will probably be lower next season. He also didn't have the best season being injured and then throwing up bricks to close the season. He just wasn't going to get his raise, regardless.
So I don't know if he crawled back, but he didn't have a choice when it became apparent that he wasn't going to improve on his $12M+/yr deal.
So here we are now. He's been back with the team and has been putting up monster numbers. He could get put into the All-star game by the coaches.
Most importantly, he's kept his mouth shut about things and has played everything, both on and off the court, the right way. Part of that is that he has no choice now. He doesn't have a fallback contract that he can opt into next season if he doesn't get a deal that he likes. This is it for him. This will likely be his last long-term contract of his career.
And the other part is that I hope that he's learned how to handle things better and perhaps has been humbled a bit.
This won't be the last you hear about Boozer on the ITLITTDOC