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Full Court Press

I can't be the only one that feels this way: going to Utah newspaper websites is like entering a portal to a different galaxy, a happy land where NBA executives still give quotes to beat writers from the golf course, men are named Jody, and John Stockton is the gold standard to which every player, seemingly regardless of position or skill, is held.  Who do we have to thank for this magical journey into SLC?  

Paul Millsap, of course.

In case you missed it this weekend...

The bigggest misconception floating right now is that the Blazers' offer forces Utah to make an immediate decision between Carlos Boozer and Millsap.  Of couse that's what's floating here in Portland because Portland stands to benefit the most in that situation.  Some are stretching that further to say that if Utah decides on Millsap, they must trade Boozer this week before the offer sheet deadline.  Some perspective: Jazz management was so panicked by Portland's "toxic offer" that rather than working the phones around the clock to move Boozer they spent the weekend dinking and doinking at a charity golf tournament. 

The most important question facing Jazz ownership in the short term is whether they value Paul Millsap at a heavily front-loaded 4 years/ $32 million.  Most likely they do.  If that's the case, matching would seem a no-brainer. There is nothing except money preventing the Jazz from carrying both players this summer and beyond. It might be painful to cut that big check up-front (and luxury tax checks down the road) but odds are they get it done. The Jazz knew they were going to have to pay him.

Ken BergerCBS Sports...

One interesting aspect of this tale is the fact that Utah is in better financial shape to match Millsap's signing bonus than was originally assumed. The maximum signing bonus that can be included in an offer sheet is 17.5 percent of the total contract -- in this case, $5.6 million. Many NBA teams would have trouble writing a check that big without borrowing the money, but Utah, according to NBA front office sources, isn't one of them. The team's only debt is a small amount owed on its arena, so paying Millsap a signing bonus would be "a non-event for them," according to one of the sources.


If the Jazz decide to venture deep into tax territory by matching the Millsap offer, they would have a few months to find the best deal for Boozer. They wouldn't be locked into a tax level until the February trade deadline, when they might get better offers from teams eager to clear 2010-11 cap space by acquiring Boozer's expiring contract. But their leverage also might diminish because teams would know they were desperate to shed tax money. 

From the Blazers' standpoint, it's not clear what their options would be if Utah matched the offer sheet. Portland has between $7.7 million and $9 million in cap space, which was preserved when Hedo Turkoglu backed out of his verbal agreement and signed with the Raptors. If the Blazers don't use that money this season, it won't be available next summer because they will have to use it to sign Brandon Roy and Aldridge to extensions.    

Ross SilerSalt Lake Tribune...

This is just my interpretation of what was said Saturday, but Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor made three comments that suggested the team was inclined to match the four-year, $32 million offer sheet Paul Millsap signed with Portland.

O'Connor has vowed to match any offer to Millsap that isn't in the realm of the "really outrageous." His comments Saturday seemed to suggest that an $8 million a year offer by the Trail Blazers doesn't fit that definition.

First of all, talking about following through on the pledge to match, O'Connor mentioned "it might be a little different" if Millsap had been offered $11 million or $12 million a season.    

Ross SilerSalt Lake Tribune...

According to sources, Boozer was told by Miller that the franchise was going in a different direction, with Boozer saying he could respect the decision but hoped the Jazz would accommodate him with a trade, a request Miller agreed the team would try to honor.

"Any conversations between me and Carlos need to remain between me and Carlos," Miller wrote in a text message. "If/when there's something to say publicly, we'll announce by usual means."

There was some skepticism within the organization that such a conversation had taken place. The Jazz have stressed all along to Boozer that he should be prepared to play this season in Utah, given the difficulties associated with making trades.

But such a decision in regard to trading Boozer would seem to increase the likelihood the Jazz will match Portland's offer to Millsap.

Tim Buckley of the Deseret News...

"He still has a little despair, still is a little bit disappointed about the situation," said Millsap's uncle and rep, DeAngelo Simmons. "Because (the Jazz) really played hardball, and he wasn't paid attention to.

"To not set a value on their player and let someone else do it," Simmons added, "is questionable."


The Jazz, according to Millsap's reps, later said no offer would be forthcoming until other similarly skilled free agents - including Shawn Marion, who went from Toronto to Dallas as part of a multi-team sign-and-trade, and Cleveland's Anderson Varejao, who re-signed with the Cavaliers - established their true value.

Millsap's side didn't appreciate the wait.

"Shawn Marion never rebounded for you. Varejao never sprawled on the floor for you. They never took a charge for you," Simmons said. "Why let those guys set the market for you?"

Tim BuckleyDeseret News...

"The indication I got is that they're not going to [match]," said Millsap's representative and uncle, DeAngelo Simmons.

Yet even while somewhat mixed signals seemed to be coming from the franchise's front office Saturday, general manager Kevin O'Connor did have this to say regarding Jazz ownership: "I don't think the Miller family likes to be bullied."

But bullies the Blazers are trying to be.


"We're going to have seven days to take a hard look at the decision we're going to make," Jazz president Randy Rigby said Saturday in Lehi, where he was playing in a charity golf tournament hosted by Deron Williams — a tourney for which Millsap, incidentally, did not show up as previously planned.

"I think it's going to take time for us to analyze it and really make sure we're making the right decision," Rigby added. "We've got to look at the financial well-being of the situation."


Gordon MonsonSalt Lake Tribune...

Losing Millsap is particularly toxic and obnoxious to the Jazz because he is their guy. They drafted him, they developed him, they gave him his opportunity, and, given the fact that top free agents don't line up to come here, losing what is theirs is painful.

Especially when what is theirs gets 16 and 10 a night.

Jody Genessy of the Deseret News goes edgy in this blog posting. I think? 

States with a majority of votes for Boozer are colored in blue. States that chose Hinrich are red. And states that picked Thomas are green.


Oregonians apparently have a soft spot for Hinrich, because Paul Allen's kingdom is the only state that is colored red. (Not to politicize this, but it is kind of humorous that Oregon is red while Utah is green. That's gotta make liberals who recycle in Utah quite happy.)


So, in short, the report is suggesting that the Blazers really didn't have anything to lose, and had a lot to gain by doing this. Best case, they land one of the premier, young big men in the Western Conference, and fill a need for a physical, rebounding power forward they've desired. Worst case, Utah matches, but still needs a willing trade partner to help them move Boozer, who many in Utah say, has played his last game in a Jazz uniform.Again, the only two teams with the cap space to absorb a lopsided deal, possibly involving Boozer, are Oklahoma City, thought to be finished adding parts for now, and Portland. However, this doesn't mean that Utah couldn't make a deal that didn't involve one of those teams. If they choose to match, and work a trade with someone else for Boozer, they'd only slightly reduce the amount of tax owed, as reported by the Salt Lake Tribune.

One other interesting scenario was mentioned by that paper late Friday night. It implies that while being very interested in Millsap, the offer sheet could also be used to simply force the hand of the Jazz to make a different trade that favors Portland.    

Wendell MaxeyBeyond The Beat...

It's not a matter of if the Utah Jazz match Portland's offer to Paul Millsap, but simply when.

As Gordon Monson - a columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune - wrote Saturday night, the Jazz should re-sign Millsap and trade Carlos Boozer for a defender that would better suit Jerry Sloan's offense....and Utah has said all along they are committed to matching a Millsap offer. 

So that takes care of Utah.

In Other News...

Jason Quick with a nice piece/video on the evolution of Jerryd Bayless...

"I thought, 'Pfft. What can you tell me? I scored 30 a game,'" Bayless said. "I wasn't quite that cocky but ... at the same time, (I was feeling) there's not really too much you can say to me right now. Who else has done that coming into the league? Chris, D.Will ... none of them came in and scored 30 a game. But it was the worst possible thing. At the time I thought it was the best possible thing, but for me and this team, it was the worst possible thing."     

Awoj, Yahoo! Sports goes after KP...

Pritchard has long liked to talk about never laying up on the golf course and burning through cell batteries and the way that the Blazers had outworked and outsmarted the NBA. Few have been terribly impressed with how Pritchard handled the highs of the job, and now there are doubts about how he's handling its lows.

After the first 10 days of free agency, so far Pritchard stands as the summer's biggest loser.    

Ian Thomsen, CNNSI with an in-depth piece on negotiation strategies with Nuggets VP Basketball Ops Mark Warkentien. Perhaps some good advice for KP and B Roy?

Put away the Blackberry and the cell phone and get on an airplane. "Whenever you can, you need to close the personal distance," Warkentien said. "Sending an e-mail is probably better than a fax. A phone call is better than an e-mail. And face-to-face beats a phone call. In this electronic era we're so busy texting and e-mailing and all that stuff, and it was a reminder to hear them say you need to get face-to-face. Think about something as simple as an argument with the wife -- it's a lot easier to blast her over the phone than it is when you're talking face-to-face. It's a lot easier to hang up the phone and be mad all day, but when you're in the same room it's a different kind of argument."    

Andy Popp of PDX Pipeline looks at which of last year's rooks has the best chance of a sophomore slump.

The 4 players ranked in order of sophomore slump likeliness:

1. Nicolas Batum
2. Rudy Fernandez
3. Jerryd Bayless
4. Greg Oden

Your thoughts?

Oh yeah, JJ1 got paiiiiiiid.

Please drop any other links in the comments. And be sure to frequent the fanshots.

-- Ben (