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News » Jazz's questions to be answered

Jazz's questions to be answered

Jazz's questions to be answered
Looking at their roster as they open up training camp Friday, it almost appears as if nothing much happened over the summer for the Utah Jazz . All the former All-Stars ? Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur and Andrei Kirilenko ? are back with the team. So, too, is their biggest star ?

Deron Williams. The whole coaching staff ? Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan, et al ? is geared up for another go. The entire starting lineup remains intact. The majority of the team's key reserves returned. In all, 12 guys from the 2008-09 squad are still hanging around a year later. And aside from a rookie draftee ? backup point guard Eric Maynor ? the team hasn't signed any new faces to guaranteed contracts for the 2009-10 season, either. If you're just tuning into the Jazz since they were ousted from the first round of the NBA Playoffs by the Los Angeles Lakers last spring, don't be fooled. Despite how it looks, this summer was anything but an uneventful offseason for Utah. Not unlike the well-publicized "Saved by the Bell" reunion attempts, there's been some drama-filled moments in reuniting this cast of characters on the same stage. Fans, management and teammates can thank the guy who acted like he was applying to become the spokesperson for tourism offices in Chicago and Miami for many of the offseason headlines and story lines. Before coverage of the upcoming season proceeds ? and the Boozer & Media Circus begins ? it's worth revisiting what led up to the Jazz putting mostly the same product on the court for another season. OPTED IN: The early $100,000 question ? or $27 million if you combine their salaries ? this offseason was whether or not Boozer, Okur and Kyle Korver would exercise the options in their contracts to come back or if they would search for greener pastures elsewhere. Boozer, turns out, ended up doing both. After opting into his final year with Utah ? and cashing in on another $12.7 million ? the power forward openly flirted with the Windy City and South Beach through media outlets while claiming the luxury-tax-burdened Jazz had agreed to trade him away. He even kinda dissed his own teammates while sounding like he was BFFs (best friends forever) with DerrickRose and DwyaneWade. The more Boozer's mouth opened, the more he filled up sports-talk shows, chatrooms, message boards and article comment sections with a plethora of responses from fired-up and fed-up fans, many of whom criticized him for putting the Jazz in a financial pickle, for not playing through injuries and for his perceived lack of defensive effort. Okur and Korver, meanwhile, both opted to come back. Without the accompanying negative backlash, of course. Okur also signed a two-year extension with the Jazz and likely didn't hurt management's feelings ? in Utah, at least ? when he decided not to play for his native Turkey during the just-completed European championships so his body could fully heal. Korver made some noise this summer, too, and it wasn't just sparking a collective sigh of relief from his jersey-sporting admirers when he decided to stay here. Rather, it was from people ? some perhaps unsuspecting ? on the receiving end of his dodgeball tosses. BROUGHT BACK: For a week or so, PaulMillsap was the talk of two towns ? Portland and Salt Lake City. Hoping to lure an attractive free agent their way, the Trail Blazerssigned the NBA's biggest bargain of the 2008-09 season to a four-year, $32-million offer sheet. For nearly a week, Jazz brass made everybody wait with bated breath to see if they would match the offer that would vault them even further into dreaded luxury-tax territory. Utah did just that. But after picking up Millsap's tab for the next four years, the Jazz created a conundrum for themselves. Would there be room ? and good enough team chemistry ? for two high-quality power forwards on the roster? Would Boozer be traded so Millsap could be the main man? Who will start and play most if they both remain on the roster? Stay tuned... The Jazz also re-signed the hard-working RonniePrice for two years to be Williams' backup, and Utah decided it would give 7-foot-1 Ukrainian project KyryloFesenko one more year to try to develop into a serviceable NBA big man. OPTED OUT: The Jazz put an end to the Jarron Collins era by not offering the Stanford product a new deal after his eight seasons in the Beehive State. Now trying out for the Portland Trail Blazers, the center was one of just three players Utah let walk. The Jazz didn't take the team option for a third season with Morris Almond, who spent the summer with New York but is now hoping to earn a spot in Orlando. Veteran Brevin Knight wasn't brought back, either, after Utah drafted a third point guard. PICKED UP: Utah drafted two guys in June with interesting background stories in Maynor, who grew up on a country road in North Carolina, and Bosnian big man GoranSuton, who grew up in a war-torn country before taking refuge in Michigan. Maynor, the first-round pick from VirginiaCommonwealthUniversity, signed his rookie deal on July 1 and comes into camp as the only newcomer with a guaranteed contract. Suton, a second-round pick from Michigan State, is hoping to fill the void in the middle left by Collins. STAYED PUT: Aside from some charity events that included him beaning people with dodgeballs and doing backflips at his golf tournament ? not to mention a biking challenge with Floyd Landis ? the summer was mostly unnewsworthy for Williams. Same goes for other guys under contract like Kirilenko, C.J. Miles, KostaKoufos and RonnieBrewer, though he will likely try to strike an extension deal with the Jazz before the deadline in October. Koufos did participate on third-place Greece's team in EuroBasket 2009. The fact that Kirilenko skipped that tournament ? the same one he was named MVP of in 2007 ? so he could work on beefing up for the Jazz was the Russian's biggest offseason news splash. TAKING R&R: One thing that loomed over the Jazz throughout the summer was the health of Matt Harpring. Still does, in fact. Several updates throughout the summer revealed that he was having problems with his surgically repaired ankle and knee. Like they did last spring, the Jazz have told Harpring to rest, relax and hopefully recuperate before deciding if he should retire or try to play again. So the small forward is not coming to camp, which isn't all that unusual. He's missed all or part of camp and the preseason for three years in a row because of one ailment, surgery or the other. The question remaining: Will the banged-up, 11-year veteran make it back? And will Boozer be there when he does? And who will be the starting power forward by then? And whose game will have shown the most progression (or regression)? And ... and .... those questions ? and so many more after a wild summer ? will begin to be asked and answered starting Friday. e-mail:

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: September 26, 2009


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