By David Aldridge, TNT analyst
Posted Jun 30 2009 8:16PM
The Utah Jazz had a better Tuesday than finally elected Minnesota Senator Al Franken.
Faced with the possibility of having to re-sign three of their top six players, the Jazz got the news they was hoping for when both Carlos Boozer and center Mehmet Okur decided not to opt out of their current contracts, keeping both in Salt Lake City and eliminating two of the more coveted free agents to be off the market.
"Memo is staying," Okur's agent, Marc Fleisher, texted late Tuesday afternoon to TNT's David Aldridge.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported earlier that Boozer had decided not to opt out of the final year of his contract, deciding that he likely wouldn't find any suitors that could pay him more than the $12.657 million he's slated to get next season. Okur will make $9 million next season instead of testing the waters. On Monday, guard Kyle Korver decided not to opt out of the last year of his deal and play next season with the Jazz for $5.3 million.
Now, Utah can turn its full attention toward re-signing restricted free agent forward Paul Milsap. Milsap, who was one of the Jazz's top reserves his first season and became the full-time starter at power forward while Boozer missed 47 games last season with knee and quad injuries. Boozer returned for the playoffs, but the Jazz were beaten in five games by the Lakers in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs. Because Milsap is a restricted free agent, Utah can match any offer that other teams make for him.
"We're going to re-sign Paul Milsap unless the number is outrageous," said Utah's vice president of basketball operations, Kevin O'Connor, by telephone.
In the end, the slumping U.S. economy probably took a lot of teams that may have potentially been players for any of Utah's players out of the market. Many teams are less likely to be aggressive this summer, with the salary cap for the 2009-10 season likely to drop some from its current $58.68 million, though likely not by more than $1 million or so, according to a source with knowledge of the cap setting process.
"I think it just shows the sign of the times," O'Connor said. "It was their option. It was really kind of wait and see what they did. If they had all opted out [though], we were also free agents. It wasn't just them."
And the Jazz now have the potential to be a player in the 2010 free agent market. Utah's All-Star Olympic guard, Deron Williams, will be around for the long haul, but if the Jazz can't break through next season, they could let Boozer, Okur and Korver all go, or make sign-and-trade deals with other teams for them. Utah currently only has five players with guaranteed money committed for the 2010-11 season, including this year's first-rounder VCU guard Eric Maynor, totalling only a little more than $40 million. The family of the late Jazz owner Larry Miller, which now owns the team, is committed to keeping spending at or near current levels in trying to build a championship contending team and is likely going to pay luxury tax this coming season.
Having its key players back in the fold gives Utah some continuity going into next season. The Jazz may or may not bring back backup point guard Ronnie Price now that they have drafted Maynor to try and cut down starter Williams's load next season.
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