Boozer preparing to finalize Utah Jazz contract

Carlos on Cavs controversy: 'Everyone has moved on'

Posted: Wednesday, July 28, 2004

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. - Carlos Boozer is leaving yet another team for the Utah Jazz.

In the case of USA Basketball, however, it's only for a day.

"I've got to go back (to Salt Lake City) and sign my papers," Boozer said.

Those would be his Get Out of Cleveland papers.

The power forward makes it official Thursday when he signs a six-year, $68 million contract with the Jazz. Technically, the retooling Cavaliers have until then to match the Utah offer.

Angola has a better chance of beating the United States in Olympic round-robin play.

"Everyone has moved on," Boozer said Monday after the first day of U.S. Olympic basketball training camp. "I'm excited about my situation and (the Cavaliers) are excited about theirs.

"Everything is behind us."

Cavaliers management and fans might not agree, but Boozer, a 1999 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate, is focused on the present and future. Even so, it was obvious Monday that all anyone wanted to discuss was the past.

Boozer said he did not betray the trust of a franchise that let him out of the option year of his contract, thinking he would re-sign with it. He reiterated that no "handshake deal" or promises were made to Cavaliers owner Gordon Gund and general manager Jim Paxson at a June 30 meeting at Gund Arena.

The third-year pro said he has no regrets over leaving because he's parting on good terms with fellow Olympian LeBron James and the rest of the Cavaliers, including coach Paul Silas.

At times agitated by the continual Cavalier queries - "If you have any more questions about Cleveland, look up old articles" - Boozer grew coy when asked about the torrent of criticism from fans and media.

"Someone really smart told me that they wrap dead fish in newspapers, you guys can run with that," he said.

Boozer said fans "don't know everything" about the contract discussions with the Cavaliers. Offered a chance to elaborate, Boozer declined.

"I'm not going into details, it's history," he said.

He thanked Cavaliers fans for two seasons of support and said he hopes that they "will still cheer for me," but understands if the chants of "Booz" become just boos.

As he and his wife, CeCe, weighed their options - the most the Cavaliers could offer under the salary cap is about $38 million over six years - they received a phone call from Boozer's college coach, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke.

Krzyzewski already had spurned a lucrative deal to leave Duke for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Did Coach K try to persuade his former player to follow his lead? To remain at his current job for less money?

"No, he was excited (for me)," Boozer said. "He said he was proud of me and that I deserved it."

Boozer also is receiving strong backing from James.

Teammates for another five weeks, they were all smiles during the practice Monday. James playfully yelled at Boozer after altering a dunk attempt.

"Booz is my great friend. Him going to another team, that ain't going to (ruin) a friendship," James said. "We are not going to be in the NBA our whole life. When we retire, we are going to do things together."

The teammates have spoken by phone throughout Boozer's contract ordeal. James said he never lobbied Boozer to remain with the Cavaliers.

"Booz knows that I wanted him to stay, but when it comes down to his family, he's got to do what's best for them, and I respect that," James said.

Boozer is anxious to play for his country and his new NBA team. He was noncommittal when asked if he thought that the Jazz had a better future than the Cavaliers.

"You never know until the season," he said.

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