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Boozer/Millsap Connundrum

July 23, 2009

It appears inevitable that Carlos Boozer’s time as a member of the Utah Jazz is coming to an end.  Considering the Jazz’s desire to match Portland’s offer and reatain Paul Millsap, it seems more than likely that the Jazz will work a trade for Boozer in the coming days.  What does this mean for the Jazz?

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It has been reported that the contract offered to Millsap by Portland is for 4 years and worth roughly $32 million, with $10.3 million due sometime in the first week of the contract. Should the Jazz really pay this kind of money to a relatively unproven power forward? Should the Jazz commit to an undersized power forward with limited offensive skills? Don’t get me wrong; I have always been a huge Paul Millsap fan. Sure he’s a great rebounder, a great hustler, and a better defender than Carlos Boozer. He played great in Boozer’s absence. But can he be a starting power forward in the Jazz’s offense, a power forward centric offense–the old “pick-and-roll” style offense perfected by Stockton-Malone and more recently, Williams-Boozer?

My position regarding Boozer is admittedly a less popular one, but Boozer gives the Jazz the best chance of winning. The Jazz are far more productive offensively with Boozer on the court.  Boozer is a very skilled offensive player who has the ability to play in the post and finish with the left and right hand, while also being capable of hitting a mid-range jumper. He is a two-time all star, and an Olympian.  With Boozer the Jazz are a much more competitive team and have a far greater chance of contending for a Western Conference championship.

I understand the criticism of Carlos Boozer.  I understand his proneness to injury.  I realize he has given Jazz fans many reasons to doubt him as a player and question his character. But when (a very big when) healthy he is one of the top power forwards in the league.  I recognize that at this point the relationship between Boozer and the Jazz appears to be fading quickly and the fans are anxiously waiting to kick him on the way out, but I don’t understand how losing Boozer makes the Jazz a stronger team.  It’s laughable how Jazz fans are drooling over potential trades for guys like Rip Hamilton and Tyrus Thomas. Seriously? I can’t see any practical trade or other scenario in which the Jazz lose Boozer and actually can get better at the power forward position.

Millsap is a great player… but a great back-up player. He is not worth the money that the Blazers are offering. Why Portland even offered such a deal for Millsap can be discussed in another article (I have my opinions). Can Millsap match up against the strongest power forwards in the league? We already saw how much Millsap struggled against Gasol in the playoffs last season. Millsap has difficulty with his back to the basket and does not have a good mid-range jump shot.

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Statistics showed last season that when Millsap faced a particular defense for the second or third time, the less productive he became.  Moreover, the pick-and-roll is rarely run when Millsap is on the court, making it difficult for the Jazz to execute late in games. Millsap is great around the rim. He is great at getting rebounds and quick put-backs and he excels at chasing down loose balls. He has always given a strong effort whenever on the court. He is an effort guy and a guy that can bring much needed energy– a reason he has become such a fan favorite in Utah. But he is not worth the $32 million contract and the $10.3 million he will be getting on Friday.

I do not believe Millsap will be the all-star caliber player Jazz fans are hoping he will become. Committing to Millsap as the long term starting power forward seems like a very big risk. As a Jazz fan, I hope I am wrong.

Article by Mark Helgesen

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