Struggling Jazz could face roster shakeup
Concerned about a lackluster start that has left them in ninth place in the Western Conference and motivated not to pay a hefty luxury-tax bill for moderate success, the Utah Jazz appear willing to trade anyone on their roster but point guard Deron Williams(notes), multiple league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The Jazz have a payroll exceeding $77 million with five players making at least $9 million this season. Their dilemma: While they would like to shed some salary, they want to remain competitive enough to at least contend for a playoff berth.
Carlos Boozer(notes), who is making $12.6 million in the final season of his contract, has attracted interest, but sources said the Jazz have yet to enter any substantive trade talks involving the forward. Jazz coach Jerry Sloan has told management he’d prefer to keep Boozer for the season to help with the team’s playoff push, but ownership wants to avoid paying as much luxury tax as possible.
Rival executives think the Jazz have been asking for too much for Boozer, and that most teams who trade for him would want assurances they have a good chance to re-sign him over the summer.
Boozer is averaging more than 19 points and 10 rebounds and could prove to be a difference-maker for a contending team. The Detroit Pistons discussed trading Tayshaun Prince(notes) for Boozer over the summer, but one West executive said the Jazz wanted only to redirect Prince to the Portland Trail Blazers and now lack another team with salary-cap room to do so.
It’s also little secret the Jazz have been trying with no luck to trade forward Andrei Kirilenko(notes) and his hefty contract for some time. Kirilenko is making a team-high $16.4 million this season and $17.8 million next season.
Discussions for a trade that would’ve exchanged Eduardo Najera(notes) for Kris Humphries(notes) and Shawne Williams(notes) are “on life support,” a league source said, because the New Jersey Nets have been unable to clear a roster spot to make it happen. New Jersey had hoped the Dallas Mavericks would add some money to the deal to allow them to buy out Williams’ contract, but the Nets haven’t been able to make a roster move. They tried to trade former first-round pick Josh Boone(notes) to Denver for Joey Graham(notes) and his non-guaranteed deal as a precursor to the Dallas deal, but those talks dried up, too. … Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo(notes) told Yahoo! Sports he expects to return to action Wednesday against Miami after missing the previous game with a hamstring injury. “I’m getting better each day with the rest I’m getting. I’m just ready to get back up there,” Rondo said. … The Milwaukee Bucks waived guard Roko Ukic(notes) on Monday after he decided to forfeit the remaining money on his contract. Ukic was making $1.35 million this season with a player option for $1.45 million next season, a league source said. Ukic has appeared in only 13 games this season and hopes to join a team overseas. Ukic’s agent, Marc Cornstein, said his client will likely go play in Europe after he clears waivers. … The Golden State Warriors released forward-center Mikki Moore(notes) on Monday and have agreed to pay for the rest of his rehabilitation for a right heel injury that has him sidelined until at least April. An NBA source said the Warriors made the move so they could guarantee forward-center Chris Hunter’s(notes) contract for the rest of the season before Wednesday’s deadline. The Warriors were worried that if they cut Hunter in hopes of signing him to a 10-day contract later, he would be picked up off waivers by another team. … An NBA source said the Denver Nuggets continue to have interest in acquiring another big man.
Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski contributed to this report.