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Player opt-ins put Jazz in tight financial position



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Despite telling us a year ago he'd for sure opt out, Carlos Boozer surveyed the economic landscape and realized there just wasn't the longterm deal out there for the kind of cash he wanted. So, Booz is back; 1 year for $13 million.

"We are excited that Carlos has decided to remain with the Jazz," general manager Kevin O'Connor said in a news release Tuesday. "We are hopeful he can continue to play at an All-Star level and will have an injury-free season."

Meanwhile, Mehmet Okur's agent was in Salt Lake all day Tuesday meeting with O'Connor. The two were trying to work out a contract extension, but when it wasn't to be, Okur followed Boozer taking the cash and staying; he will make $9 million next season.

Then both players join a crowded and incredibly talented free agent pool next summer, which includes the likes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Dirk Nowitzki, to name just the top of the list.

The Boozer surprise puts a bit of a squeeze on the Jazz pursuit of restricted free-agent-to-be Paul Millsap. They've said they'll do what it takes to keep Millie, but Tuesday night -- when Millsap becomes a free agent -- he'll get offers.

The Jazz have the right to match any offer Millsap gets, but at what cost? It could push the Jazz well into the luxury tax, a realm Jazz owner Greg Miller says they'd be willing to go into. He told KSL back in May that the organization loves Millsap.

"We would love to keep Paul on our team. We feel his development has been marvelous over the years he's been here. We think he's got a great future ahead of him, and if we had to we would not rule out paying luxury tax money to keep him on the team," Miller said.

Millsap becomes a restricted free agent at 10 p.m. MDT Tuesday.

E-mail: tkirkland@ksl.com

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