Boozer reportedly hurt by reaction to Jazz deal

Updated: July 12, 2004, 10:58 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Cleveland Cavaliers believe they had his word he'd re-sign. Carlos Boozer asserts he made no promises.

Either way, Boozer appears set to leave Cleveland for a six-year, $68 million deal with the Utah Jazz.

Whatever the reason for the differing opinions of the Cavs and Boozer, it's the free-agent forward who is hurting under the barrage of criticism for skipping out on a reported hand-shake deal.

Boozer has declined to comment on the agreement made Thursday to sign an offer sheet July 14 with the Jazz, but a source close to the 22-year-old says the blame is taking its toll on Boozer.

Blame Carlos Boozer all you want for breaking his verbal agreement, but Insider's Chad Ford points out that Cavs GM Jim Paxson gambled he could lock Boozer up long term on the cheap and lost, big-time.
  • Ford: Bam-Boozered
  • The source told The Salt Lake Tribune for Sunday's editions that Boozer has been surprised and hurt by the intensity of the negative reaction for Boozer's move.

    The sentiment on Boozer in the Cleveland area is largely that he is a "backstabbing, double-crossing, money-grubbing Judas," according to the Tribune. Yet, the source told the paper that Boozer contends he did nothing wrong and had been careful not to commit or promise anything to the Cavaliers.

    The discrepancy in Boozer's and the Cavs' take on the existence of a gentlemen's agreement hinges on public statements made by Boozer in an interview with The Associated Press on July 1 -- the day Boozer became a free agent when the Cavaliers did not exercise an option in his contract.

    At the time, Boozer expressed an intention to re-sign in Cleveland for the team's full mid-level exception -- approximately six years and $40 million. And so, the Cavaliers say, they did not pick up the option.

    "Our actions have been based upon what Carlos told us he wanted," the Cavaliers said in a statement Thursday by owner Gordon Gund and general manager Jim Paxson.

    "We are both very surprised and very disappointed."

    But, according to the Tribune's source, Boozer did not agree to anything -- both because of NBA rules and his own bargaining position.

    "He actually pulled out the collective bargaining agreement," the source told the paper, and noted the clauses prohibiting "undisclosed agreements."

    The source, who had knowledge of a June 30 meeting in which the Cavs contend Boozer verbally agreed to re-sign, told the Tribune that Boozer "did tell the Cavs that [he] wanted to be in Cleveland & but did not make a commitment or a promise."

    Now, the Cavs are almost certain to lose Boozer. The Cavs have the right to match the Utah offer, but they would have to trade and/or renounce the rights to a number of players to clear enough room to do so.

    And Boozer, who just a few weeks ago publicly declared his happiness in Cleveland, is reportedly expressing good feelings about his agreement with the Jazz.

    The source told the Tribune that Boozer and his wife, CeCe, "are excited that [Jazz GM] Kevin O'Connor is giving them this opportunity," and look forward to moving to Utah.

    ALSO SEE