Fri, Jul 16, 2004 - Page 24 News List

Carlos Boozer may Jazz it up in Utah

AP , SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH

Carlos Boozer has signed an offer sheet with the Utah Jazz, and the Cleveland Cavaliers won't try to get him back.

Boozer, who became a restricted free agent when Cleveland made a controversial decision not to pick up his third-year option, signed with the Jazz early Wednesday. He will officially join Utah if Cleveland doesn't match the offer in 15 days, which Cavs owner Gordon Gund said he has no intention of doing.

"I think he saw an opportunity and took advantage of it as far as us needing a position and having money," Jazz vice president for basketball operations Kevin O'Connor said.

O'Connor worked through the night to finalize the deal with Boozer and another with Detroit center Mehmet Okur, who also signed an offer sheet Wednesday. If Cleveland and Detroit don't match the offers, the Jazz will have two emerging players in the two positions where they needed the most help.

The Jazz also got one of their own restricted free agents to re-sign on Wednesday. Carlos Arroyo, who got a one-year contract last summer, took over for John Stockton as the starting point guard and averaged 12.6 points and five assists per game. He was rewarded with a four-year deal worth a reported US$16 million.

The Jazz had plenty of money to go after free agents and owner Larry Miller gave O'Connor the green light to be aggressive.

Cleveland doesn't have the money under the salary cap to match Boozer's six-year, US$68 million offer. And if the Cavs did come up with a way to keep Boozer, he may not feel terribly welcome back in Cleveland.

The Cavs have maintained they had a verbal understanding in place with Boozer to work out a long-term contract. Boozer has denied there was an agreement, although he did tell The Associated Press at the beginning of the free-agency period that he planned to stay in Cleveland.

Gund posted a letter to fans on the team's Web site explaining Cleveland's side of the story.

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