A few months ago, Jazz forward Carlos Boozer was so convinced he would opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent that he proclaimed, "I'm opting out, no matter what. I'm going to get a raise regardless."
Less than 18 hours before Tuesday's deadline for players with early termination clauses or player options to notify teams of their intentions, there has been no word from Boozer's camp on whether he will choose to hit the unrestricted free-agent market at midnight Wednesday. One sticking point could be the part about Boozer believing he would "get a raise regardless." Due to make $12.7 million next season in the final year of his deal, Boozer may be stuck in the wrong free-agent class.
He's a 2010 free agent trapped in a 2009 free agent's body.
Only a handful of teams have enough cap space to sign a max player, the Pistons being chief among them. According to sources, the Pistons are expected to reach out to Boozer, Hedo Turkoglu, and Ben Gordon when the negotiating period begins. Oklahoma City and Memphis also are flush with cap room, but neither team is expected to make a big splash this summer. So does Boozer want to walk away from $12.7 million based on one team making it worth his while?
An Eastern Conference executive said Monday night it's feasible that Boozer backtracks on his opt-out guarantee, picks up his player option for next season, and makes another run at free agency in 2010, when numerous teams will have money to spend.
"That wouldn't be the least bit surprising," the executive said.
Boozer's agent, Rob Pelinka, did not return a call seeking comment Monday. Pelinka has another, more famous client in the same position as Boozer: the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, who is widely expected to terminate his contract with the intention of re-upping with L.A. But Bryant's situation is more complicated -- isn't it always? -- because he can make the Lakers sweat while they try to re-sign free agents Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom and while Phil Jackson decides whether to return for the final year of his contract.