Free-agent-to-be Carlos Boozer sounded intrigued about joining Mike
D’Antoni’s Knicks, but believes if he comes to New York, it won’t be in a
star tandem with LeBron James.
Boozer and James were Cleveland teammates for King James’ rookie year. Boozer left Cleveland the first chance he got — for a multi-year contract with Utah in 2004. But Boozer doesn’t think James will leave his hometown.
"I think LeBron’s going to stay," Boozer said before scoring 26 points on 11-of-16 shooting with 14 rebounds in Utah’s 103-98 victory last night over the Knicks at EnergySolutions Arena.
"That’s my gut. They’re doing everything they can to build him a championship. His biggest thing is winning a ring. I think his best chance to win a ring is probably where he’s at."
Boozer walked out the arena yesterday’s morning shootaround wearing a Yankees ballcap — the same fashion statement of James. "I’m a Yankees fan," Boozer said.
He’s also a big D’Antoni fan. The Knicks, however, regard Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudemire as better power-forward fits in D’Antoni’s speedball attack. Boozer is more of a traditional, low-post power forward.
In fact, Utah’s other free agent, 3-point demon, Kyle Korver, might be a more viable and cheaper piece, especially if the Knicks re-sign David Lee. Korver is tearing up the NBA, leading in 3-point FG percentage at 55.6 percent — on track to break Steve Kerr’s record. But last night, Korver shot just 1 of 9.
Surely, Boozer, who played for D’Antoni at the Olympics, is on the Knick list.
"I love D’Antoni, he’s the dope," Boozer said. "Spending time with him in the Olympics, his offensive mindset is unbelievable. He’s got the best plays I’ve ever been around — on a whim. It’s like rappers when they come out on the top of the dome with quotes. He’s got plays in the back of his head with plays for that moment."
D’Antoni said he was reluctant to talk about Boozer because of tampering, saying only, "Anyone on the US Olympic team is one of the top 20 players in the game. He’s definitely up there."
Even though Boozer got snubbed from the All-Star Game, the chances of the former Duke NCAA champion re-signing with the Jazz is stronger than when the season started. Utah is a Western Conference force again, with a 48-26 record, in fourth place, ready to make the playoffs for the 24th time in 27 years. That is an astounding stretch considering the Knicks, after being mathematically eliminated Sunday night, having missed postseason eight of the last nine years.