It was the legendary pitcher Satchel Paige who cautioned against
looking back. Carlos Boozer’s challenge is to not get caught looking
too far ahead.
Where will he be a month from now?
Once the NBA trade deadline passes on Feb. 18, Boozer could find himself launching that high-arcing jumper in Miami. Or Chicago. Or Dallas. Or Detroit. Or maybe the one place he’s hoping to be.
"Right here, with the Jazz," Boozer said. "If it was up to me, absolutely. But as you know, it’s not up to me."
The trade rumors are always flying at this time of the season. This year, with the economy depressed and the NBA salary cap and luxury tax threshold sinking, the skies are more crowded than over London during the blitz.
It was Boozer who floated his own escape plans last summer when he made noises about playing in Miami and Chicago. That seemed to make his expiring $12.7 million contract one of the most likely to be moved.
Now though, as the deadline draws near, the 28-year-old forward is changing his tune.
"We’ve won five of our last six games," Boozer said. "Things are starting to come together with our team. We’re playing some good basketball. We’ve beaten some good teams. If it’s just about basketball and trying to win as many games as you can, then I’d say keep it all together. It’s that simple."
Of course, it’s never that simple. The Jazz, playing in one of the league’s smallest markets, will have to pay the NBA luxury tax for the first time in franchise history if they don’t trim roughly $8 million from their payroll. In addition, the team is already committed to paying nearly $57 million to seven players for the 2010-11 season.
Utah could keep Boozer through the end of the season and try to re-sign him when he becomes a free agent next summer. Or, they could attempt to move him along in a sign-and-trade deal. Then again, the Jazz could pull the trigger on a deal in the next four weeks.
But would they do it just when their consistency and confidence is coming together?
Boozer scored 31 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the 105-98 win that gave the Jazz their first series sweep over the Spurs since the 1997-98 season and allowed them to start the second half of the schedule within one game of last season’s pace, at 24-18.
"I like the way things are going. I like the way it feels," Boozer said. "That’s why my preference is to be here. Not just this year, but in the future.
"I hope that’s an option. We’ll see. They know. They know already how I feel. It’s up to them. It’s their situation. It’s their money. It’s their team. I’m a player.