Saturday, July 10, 2004

WELL THIS HERE IS A REAL BOOZER OF A PICKLE: This Boozer situation--everything I've read suggests that Boozer did something realllly wrong in signing with the Jazz. The facts seem to be that: the Cavs released him from his deal that was paying him 700,000ish, the one he signed as a second-round rookie. Actually, that's the only real established fact. The rest we're getting from the Cavs, while we're getting nothing from Boozer's side, so the story is taking a pro-Cav slant: the Cavs let him go to be nice to him because they wanted him to be happy and wanted him to be on their team for years to come. So they release him with the expectation he will sign with them for 41 million. So he goes and signs with the Jazz for 68 million. That's duplicitous.

Ian Thomsen has nothing good to say about the situation--or Boozer's probably vile agent, Rob Pelinka:

Speculation has held that LeBron James is angry with Paxson for losing Boozer.

Not true, says James' agent, Aaron Goodwin.

"LeBron gave his thumbs up (to the plan enabling Boozer to become a free agent) because he believed his friend just wanted to be taken care of," says Goodwin. "He thought it was great that the Cavs wanted to help him out." Goodwin says that James was "disheartened" when he realized that Boozer was exploiting his free agency by negotiating with other teams.

Goodwin adds -- and I've confirmed this with other sources -- that Gund took personal responsibility for approving the plan to make Boozer a free agent.

"My understanding is that Carlos, his wife and Pelinka all gave their words to Paxson and Gordon Gund that Boozer would re-sign with Cleveland," Goodwin says. "By letting him become a free agent, Gordon was saying, 'I'm doing this to help the Boozer family, not just Carlos.'

"Gordon Gund isn't stupid. He knew there was a chance Boozer would leave if he let him out of his $700,000 contract. But he was [telling] the kid 'I respect you and I care about you and your family.' For him to get slapped in the face is wrong; even as an agent I have to say it's wrong. I talk to Gordon and I hear the devastation in his voice because he's from the old school, where if someone says something to you, you take him at his word.

"What Rob Pelinka did," said Goodwin, "was he figured out a way to get his guy out of his contract. And he lied to do it."

David Aldridge gets all wishy-washy in his take, while pointing out, correctly, that all the facts aren't out yet:

Well, I talked to Boozer a few times last season, and he seemed like a real stand-up guy. That's what the Dookies that I know around the league say about him, too. Said he liked Cleveland. Loved playing for Paul Silas. Said it was just a matter of time before he and LB became All-Stars. But he does his own thinking. When you're from Alaska, you tend to do that, I guess. And he's always said that Karl Malone was his idol and his standard. And I can't get mad at a kid who's offered $68 million and can take care of his family and their family and the family after that.

"But what do you think?" Real asks. "Who's right? Who's wrong?"

I don't know. I don't know.

"Real" is "Real World"--see, he did his column as a dialogue between Real World and Perfect World. But--come on, you can't take care of your family in Alaska for $41 million? You need $68 to really really take care of them? That's not a good reason.

Well, so maybe he really wanted to play for Jerry Sloan like his idol the Mailman. So he had to take the chance to play for Sloan so he could develop like his idol. Fine. I hope he gets what he wants. I hope he enjoys LeBron beating him twice in the finals and never getting that ring too.

As a sidenote, I wonder how the Dookophiles are going to explain this lapse in ethics away. This isn't Brand or Maggette doing this--this is one of their beloved four-year student-athletes.

So. Shaq to the Heat? Aldridge is pretty confident it's going to happen, as everybody in the deal has agreed to it. The Heat give up Caron Butler (who fell off a little after his great first year), Brian Grant (an all-out effort machine with less scoring ability than Ben Wallace) and the strangely resurgent Lamar Odom. Shaq gets to play with Dwayne Wade. It's still a two-man team, and we know how that worked out last year. And I am saddened to see the breakup of the Heat, who were Jazz East last year in terms of scrappiness and hustle and just wanting to play. But Shaq's not in LA anymore, which is what he wanted. His presence doesn't guarantee anything either in the no longer Leastern Conference. The old fart Lakers are suddenly the young, hungry underdog Lakers. And they still don't have Kobe. Imagine being Lakers management and having to sell the celebrities on Lamar Odom? "See, he has a funny beard...he's a real character. You'll like him. No, I'm not from the Clippers--sir? Sir?"

I really hope Kobe signs with the Clippers. Hey, what if he takes his feud with Shaq east and signs with the Knicks? It'll be the return to Knicks-Heat playoffs series nobody was clamoring for.

Always nice to throw out an NBA post out here when there's stuff going on. I assume tomorrow we will return to the normal bits and pieces.

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