Gund: Trust with Boozer 'was broken'

Updated: July 14, 2004, 9:03 PM ET
Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY -- After days of speculation, the Utah Jazz finally got two things they wanted in writing.

More dough for Boozer?
Carlos Boozer
Boozer
Carlos Boozer will receive a $2.7 million signing bonus of sorts if he eventually becomes a member of the Utah Jazz.

Despite the fact that SFX agent Rob Pelinka did negotiate Carlos Boozer's deal with the Jazz before resigning amid the controversy, a source close to SFX said that the agency would not be taking the commission from the contract.

The standard four percent agent's fee of Boozer's six-year, $68 million contract would have been $2.7 million. On Monday, Pelinka informed the Players Association that he would no longer be representing the forward. SFX spokesperson Alyson Sadofsky said that the firm would not have any comment on its relationship with Boozer.

Boozer and Pelinka were widely criticized after the two reportedly convinced the Cavaliers that if they let him out of the last year of his contract, he would eventually sign the team's full midlevel exception -- a six-year, $41 million deal. When the Cavaliers released Boozer from his contract on June 30, Boozer took his business to the Jazz.

-- Darren Rovell
Carlos Boozer wants to play for the Jazz and the Cleveland Cavaliers aren't going to try to stop him.

Boozer, who became a restricted free agent when Cleveland made a controversial decision not to pick up his third-year option, signed an offer sheet with the Jazz early Wednesday. He will officially join Utah if Cleveland doesn't match the offer in 15 days, which Cavs owner Gordon Gund said he has no intention of doing.

"I think he saw an opportunity and took advantage of it as far as us needing a position and having money," said Jazz vice president for basketball operations Kevin O'Connor.

O'Connor worked through the night to finalize the deal with Boozer and another with Detroit center Mehmet Okur, who also signed an offer sheet Wednesday. If Cleveland and Detroit don't match the offers, the Jazz will have two emerging players in the two positions where they need help the most.

The Jazz had plenty of money to go after free agents and owner Larry Miller gave O'Connor the green light to be aggressive, a strategy that failed last year when Utah got two restricted free agents to sign offers that were matched.

Cleveland doesn't have the money under the salary cap to match Boozer's six-year, $68 million offer. The Cavaliers would have to do some major overhauling to keep the 22-year-old forward, who averaged 15.5 points and 11.4 rebounds last season.

And if the Cavs do come up with a way to keep Boozer, he may not feel terribly welcome back in Cleveland. The Cavs have maintained they had a verbal agreement in place with Boozer to work out a long-term contract.

Boozer has denied there was an agreement, although he did tell The Associated Press at the beginning of the free-agency period that he planned to stay in Cleveland.

Gund posted a letter to fans on the team's Web site explaining Cleveland's side of the story.

"In the final analysis, I decided to trust Carlos and show him the respect he asked for. He did not show that trust and respect in return. That's what happened," Gund's letter said.

Boozer could not be reached for comment and he is no longer represented by agent Rob Pelinka, who worked out the deal with the Jazz. O'Connor said Boozer had to get a lawyer to look over the final contract before signing it.

The maximum Cleveland could offer Boozer in a new contract would be nearly $30 million less than the Jazz deal.

As difficult as it would be for Cleveland to keep Boozer, O'Connor was holding off getting too excited. Last summer Utah signed restricted free agents Corey Maggette and Jason Terry and both deals were matched.

"Until they're our players, I don't want to get into discussing who they are and what they are. We've got to wait 15 days," O'Connor said.

It's already been a big summer for Boozer, who was also selected for the U.S. Olympic team last week.

Detroit is also not expected to try to keep Okur, whose offer is reportedly worth $50 million over six years. The 7-foot Turk averaged 9.6 points and 5.9 rebounds in his second NBA season. Detroit got an agreement with Antonio McDyess and was trying to re-sign unrestricted free agent Rasheed Wallace.

After losing John Stockton to retirement at the end of the 2002-03 season and Karl Malone's decision to leave for the Los Angeles Lakers last summer, Utah was widely expected to be one of the worst teams in the league. But the Jazz were one of the surprises of the season, finishing at 42-40 and just missing the playoffs.

That success, O'Connor said, was a key to bringing in free agents to a market that's been labeled as undesirable because of the state's conservative reputation.

Coach Jerry Sloan was sticking with his usual stance, despite knowing he was likely to have two inside scoring threats the Jazz lacked last season.

"I don't worry about any of those things until they're here -- until we see them out here on the floor," he said. "There will be competition. There may be guaranteed contracts, but there's no guaranteed jobs. And that's the thing that players have to come in here with."

The Jazz also got one of their own restricted free agents to re-sign on Wednesday. Carlos Arroyo, who got a one-year contract last summer, took over for Stockton as the starting point guard and averaged 12.6 and five assists per game. He was rewarded with a four-year deal worth a reported $16 million.

Before last season, Arroyo had played only limited time in two NBA seasons with the Jazz, Denver and Toronto.

"I have achieved a dream that I've had since I was a kid," Arroyo said of his first long-term deal.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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