Spurned in their efforts to land Amar'e Stoudemire, the Miami Heat engaged the Jazz in "serious, owner-level" discussions to land Utah power forward Carlos Boozer -- an effort that fell flat at Thursday's trade deadline, sources told CBSSports.com.
The talks brought to a head a season-long disagreement among Jazz officials as to what should be done with Boozer, in the final year of his contract at $12.7 million -- a luxury tax burden on Utah. Coach Jerry Sloan, recognizing how well the team has played with the combination of Boozer and Paul Millsap, has been lobbying to keep him. But ownership, mindful of a massive tax bill that will be due at the end of the season, has been exploring ways to shed Boozer's contract. One way to do it would've been to recruit the Wizards as a third teamin the scenario. Washington just acquired several expiring contracts in the Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison deal and was open to the possibility of accelerating its rebuilding.
One executive familiar with the talks said they emerged Thursday as a longshot possibility for a pre-deadline deal, and if not, the discussions would lay the groundwork for a possible resurrection of the scenario this summer. The executive's doubts that the talks had any traction proved accurate, and Utah was said to be not nearly as enthused about the scenario as Miami.
With no deadline deals, the Heat remain on equal footing with cap-clearing rivals heading into the critical July 1 free-agent period. The Knicks and Bulls cleared enough space to be within striking distance of adding to max free agents this summer, and the Clippers and Kings also shed money to join the field. The Nets, with no deadline moves, will have about $25 million in cap space this summer -- enough for one max player and enough flexibility to add a second through a sign-and-trade.
Miami's edge heading into the deadline centered around the fact that they already have one of the marquee potential 2010 free agents -- Dwyane Wade -- and $18-$20 million in space to add a second superstar. But the Heat have more competition in that dash for max players, and will have to convince Wade they have the ability to pair him with one of them in order to persuade him to sign a long-term deal to stay in South Beach.