Maynor trade gives Jazz better leverage

December, 22, 2009
12/22/09
9:59
PM ET
Stein By Marc Stein
ESPN.com
Archive
Sometimes seemingly minor deals have a significant impact on the trade market leaguewide.

Tuesday could well be one of those times.

The Utah Jazz had to part with promising rookie point guard Eric Maynor to make it happen, but keeping Carlos Boozer for the rest of the season just got more affordable for the Jazz.

A lot more affordable.

Sending retirement-bound Matt Harpring and Maynor to Oklahoma City for the rights to a 2002 second-rounder who will never play in the NBA -- German forward Peter Fehse -- sliced Utah's luxury-tax bill this season from $12.6 million to a much more manageable $4.8 million.

That's still more luxury tax than the Jazz want to pay, but the nearly $8 million in tax payments that they just saved provides further incentive to keep Boozer beyond the Feb. 18 trading deadline.

No one expects him to stay in Salt Lake City after this season following Utah's decision to match the four-year, $32 million offer sheet Paul Millsap got from Portland. But Boozer -- whether he leaves through his own accord as an unrestricted free agent or works with the Jazz on a sign-and-trade -- has followed up an offseason filled with endless chatter about his imminent departure with a tension-easing start to 2009-10.

How calming? Boozer was averaging 19.8 points and 10.8 boards entering Tuesday's play and told reporters this week in Miami: "I'm having fun and hopefully everybody can see that."

This deal was typical OKC opportunism. Thunder general manager Sam Presti took advantage of his low payroll to snag yet another good young asset in Maynor by absorbing a contract that is not only expiring (at $6.5 million) but also heavily insured because of the knee and ankle injuries that have forced Harpring into television with NBA TV this season.

Yet this is a deal with two winners. Maynor is a nice prospect, sure, but dare we say point guard is one spot that Utah can afford to sacrfice some depth with a certain Deron Williams on the books.

No way Utah could say no to shedding that much payroll -- without surrendering a true core piece -- no matter how much you like Maynor.

Not when you factor in the increased leverage Utah just gave itself going into the trade deadline. The Jazz can still elect to trade Boozer if they get a deal they like, but they certainly don't have to.

For months we've heard sources with knowledge of Utah's thinking insist that the Jazz wanted at least one quality player in a Boozer deal. And that was when their luxury-tax bill was going to approach $13 million.

A tax payment in July in the $5 million range, as a one-season hit, is something Utah can presumably stomach if it decides to stick with Boozer for six more months.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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