Jazz Have More Questions Than Answers
"Nobody laid down. Nobody quit. Nobody left anything in the locker room. It was all out there on the floor."
His team would have made him proud in its series-ending, Game 4 loss in the Western Conference semifinals on Monday night, as the Jazz rallied from 22 points down in the second quarter to cut the Lakers' lead to six before falling short at the end. True to Miller's mantra, they left it all out on the floor.
As for who might occupy that floor next season? That's a different story altogether.
"I don't have any idea what the future holds," coach Jerry Sloan admitted afterward. "A lot of question marks have to be answered."
Chief among them is the future of forward Carlos Boozer, the free-agent-to-be who was hardly at his best in what could have been his last game with the Jazz (10 points on 4 of 11 shooting, 14 rebounds and four turnovers).
"It'd be nice if it worked out (to sign with Utah as a free agent)," said Boozer, who averaged 19.5 points and 11.2 rebounds during the regular season. "I'll figure it out later, man. It's too soon for all that talk, guys. Right now we're disappointed that we lost and our season is over. I'm a free agent and we'll talk about it in July."
Boozer, who came to Utah under a cloud of controversy in 2004, never thought he'd be in Utah this long. After exercising the $12.7 million player option in his contract for this season, he claimed last summer that the Jazz didn't follow through on an agreement between both sides that he would be traded. That came after his supposed predecessor was in place, as Utah matched an offer sheet from Portland to retain fourth-year player Paul Millsap at the price of $32 million for four years.
If the playoffs were any sort of tryout for next season, the two players were as comparable as ever. Millsap averaged 18 points on 57.4 percent shooting to go with 8.8 rebounds and 32.3 minutes per game. Boozer averaged 19.7 points on 53 percent shooting to go with 9.9 rebounds and 40.2 minutes per game.
"They're great," Jazz small forward Andrei Kirilenko told FanHouse of Boozer and Millsap. "I'm telling you, if you rotated them in the lineup -- put Paul in the starting lineup and Boozer off the bench -- they're going to have the same production. They've been great the whole season."
The Jazz, who were eliminated by the Lakers for the third straight season, have another key decision to make regarding Kyle Korver. The sharpshooter, who set an NBA record in three-point percentage (53.6) this season, will also be an unrestricted free agent.
He played in just 52 games after having knee and wrist surgery in the past year, but showed in Game 3 against the Lakers how valuable he can be. Korver hit nine of 10 shots and all five of his three-pointers in Utah's 111-110 loss on Saturday. As the eight-year veteran noted, his future is inherently connected to Boozer's free agency outcome.
"I'm very open to (signing with the Jazz)," Korver told FanHouse as he left the arena. "We'll see what (the Jazz) want to do. It's too soon to really break all that down. You're always frustrated when you lose the last game, but they have a lot of decisions to make as far as roster goes, Booze and other guys. We'll see how it all plays out. Salary cap wise, (Boozer's situation) plays a huge role. We'll have to see what they do."
The Jazz have approximately $55 million in salary committed for next season, and can expect to have no more than $10 million available to spend in order to stay under the projected luxury tax threshold. Wesley Matthews is also on Utah's free agent list (restricted), and the Jazz will certainly move to secure his return after the undrafted rookie out of Marquette had a breakout season. Third-year center Krylo Fesenko will be an unrestricted free agent.
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