Jazz Shrug at Luxury Tax, Aim for Playoff Dollars
Underneath it all, it seems like the issue is that teams think O'Connor has to sell off a valuable asset, no questions asked. So he's getting crummy offers, like the one detailed by Marc Stein at TrueHoop: expiring contracts and roughly $5 million in cash savings from the Mavericks in exchange for Carlos Boozer. The Jazz said no, Stein reports, and Dallas moved on to more Najeraian pastures. So, between O'Connor's fit and Stein's rumor, we can surmise Utah is not going to make itself dramatically worse -- which trading Boozer for, ahem, Kris Humphries, would certainly do (no offense, ladies) -- without getting an asset.
That means one of two things: the Jazz want a young, promising player in exchange for Boozer, the team thinks it can maneuver around the fringes, or the team is perfectly content to pay a small tax bill so long as it has a really good probability of making the playoffs and getting those two vital home playoff games. While revenue is shared on playoff games, it's still a decent pay-out (rumored to be something near $1 million per home game) -- especially in Salt Lake, where you know it will sell out. Beyond that, being in a playoff race down the homestretch can only help the gate. If the deficit between the tax bill and the gate receipts for a playoff push is small, obviously you go for the playoffs. That likely means keeping Boozer.
Oklahoma City, Houston and Utah are within a half-game of each other, with two spots at stake. New Orleans and Memphis are breathing down their necks. I mean, you might argue the Jazz needs to get better, and can't afford losing even Andrei Kirilenko in a tax-motivated move. Tricky times ahead. We'll either see just how much faith O'Connor has in this roster, or how well he's bluffing about the tax.