Utah Jazz officials strongly denied rumors Monday that the team was planning to deal power forward Carlos Boozer in advance of Thursday's NBA trade deadline.
At least three media outlets reported over last weekend's All-Star break a possible Utah-Los Angeles Lakers trade involving Boozer, a graduate of Juneau-Douglas High School. Former NBA player Jack Haley wrote on FoxSports.com that a deal was reached - pending league approval - to send Boozer to the Lakers in exchange for Vlade Divac, Caron Butler and Devean George.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday that Kevin O'Connor, Utah's senior vice president of basketball operations, called Boozer to emphasize that the trade rumors were false.
"Normally, I would wait until I could (tell him) in person, but in this case, I will make a call so he hears it from me," O'Connor told the Tribune. "There is absolutely no truth to these rumors. ...
"It's been a real pain. It takes away a lot of my time answering questions about things that don't exist."
Jazz owner Larry Miller also denied Boozer trade rumors. Lakers officials declined to directly address the Boozer rumor - "team policy is not to comment on trade rumors, no matter how absurd," a team spokesman told the Los Angeles Daily News - but they did dismiss the talk.
"I talked to (Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak) last night, and he said it's unbelievable the rumors that are going on," interim coach Frank Hamblen told the Daily News on Monday.
"I can go there for a day, say hi and come back," Divac joked to reporters on Monday about his rumored trade to Utah.
The NBA trade deadline is 11 a.m. AST Thursday.
Boozer signed a six-year, $68 million contract with Utah last summer, after spending his first two NBA seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Jazz have struggled this season and take a 17-35 record - worst in their division - into tonight's game against the Dallas Mavericks.
While Boozer is leading the team in scoring and rebounding, he was singled out when Miller, the team's owner, publicly criticized his players earlier this month - which may have fueled speculation about a possible trade. Within days of the outburst, however, Boozer and Miller said they had talked at length and worked out their differences.
Web polls kind to Boozer: The Salt Lake Tribune posted a poll question last week on its Web site - http://www.sltrib.com - asking readers, "Is Jazz forward Carlos Boozer worth his six-year, $68 million salary?"
At last glance before the poll ended, Jazz fans were on Boozer's side. With 2,851 votes cast, 52.19 percent said Boozer was worth the money, while 47.80 percent said he was not.
And, as of Tuesday evening, a poll remained active in the sports section of the Anchorage Daily News Web site - www.adn.com - asking, "Who is Alaska's greatest homegrown men's basketball player?"
With just 95 votes cast, Boozer held a commanding lead with 48 votes - 51 percent of the tally - followed by a tie at 15 votes apiece between former UAA star Jason Kaiser (14 votes) and East Anchorage grad and Duke star Trajan Langdon. No other player had more than six votes.
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