Jazz CEO Greg Miller opines on off-season

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SALT LAKE CITY — Jazz CEO Greg Miller, appearing late Sunday night on KSL-TV Ch. 5's SportsBeat Sunday show, suggested the franchise has not yet decided if it will make an offer for starting power forward and unrestricted free agent Carlos Boozer to return next season and beyond.

He didn't rule out the possibility of bringing back a two-time All-Star whose first six years in Utah were marked by a long list of injuries and much controversy, including numerous public comments about wanting to play elsewhere, a decision to sit out the Jazz's regular-season finale in April because of a strained oblique muscle, and sub-par personal play in their recent second-round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

But Miller did indicate he's anxiously willing to see how backup Paul Millsap will fare as Boozer's replacement, should Boozer sign elsewhere.

"If you look at the trend in the (NBA) the last couple years," he said, "I think teams have been a little more conservative with the amount of money they've been able to spend.

"I would say, to Carlos' credit, that I saw a lot of growth in him over the season," Miller added. "I think all the stuff that happened in the past is just water under the bridge, and I think Carlos just wants to win, and we want to win, and hopefully there's a way we can get together."

Yet Miller also said that in a March lunch meeting with Boozer's agent, Rob Pelinka, "not much of any substantial conversation took place."

As for Millsap, Miller told show host Tom Kirkland, "I don't know if he's ready to take over."

But, he hastened to add, "In my opinion, Paul played his best basketball when he was the guy, when Carlos was out. And, so, it's exciting for me to think about what we'd get out of Millsap if he knew he was going to play that key role for us. We'll just have to wait and see if that happens."

On other topics:

Miller said he was "surprised" by point guard Deron Williams' postseason assertions.

Williams said the night the season ended that "We're a playoff team — just not a championship team" and "I think we need a couple more pieces, and until we get those pieces we'll be a four or five seed."

At locker cleanout the next morning, Williams said, "If we want to compete for a title we have to add pieces" and "you see teams making deals, doing deals, you know, year after year, and we stay the same and we get the same result."

Responded Miller: "I think we were quite aggressive in the offseason last year," he said, citing the franchise's decision to match the four-year $32 million offer sheet that Millsap signed with Portland.

"With the contract commitments we had, our hands were somewhat tied. But we still made the run at Millsap after Portland made their run at Millsap, and we were able to re-sign him and keep the nucleus or our team together.

"Obviously we'd always like to get better, but there are limitations," Miller added. "We can't just go out and grab any player we want and spend any amount of money. So, we'll continue to do what we've always done and that is just put the best team on the floor we possibly can."

Miller heaped lavish praise on undrafted rookie and starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews, now a restricted free agent.

"I'm just thankful he's a member of the Jazz," Miller said, "and I personally hope he is for a long, long time to come.

"For me (keeping him is a priority). We'll see what (general manager) Kevin (O'Connor) and (team president Randy (Rigby) think."

Miller also had high praise for veteran shooting guard Kyle Korver, but expressed uncertainty as to whether or not the unrestricted free agent will be re-signed.

"He absolutely fits in," the Jazz CEO said.

"And he's another one that I'd love to try to find a way to bring him back," Miller added. "But I don't know if we're going to be able to get everything done that we want to get done."

E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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