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Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Jerry Sloan a fan of Carlos Boozer

By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com

SALT LAKE CITY -- Jerry Sloan understands why fans might boo the Chicago Bulls' Carlos Boozer when he makes his return to Energy Solutions Arena on Wednesday night, but the Utah Jazz coach said he never had any major issues with Boozer.

"I thought he was a terrific player, always did," Sloan said after the Jazz's Wednesday morning shootaround. "When he came here he was a very good passer. He can put the ball on the floor. He sees what's going on in the game and when he gets around the basket he rebounds the ball. He's got terrific hands."

Boozer was hampered by injuries throughout his time in Utah, missing 138 games in six years. His best season came in 2007-08 when he missed just one game and averaged a career-high 21.1 points a game. Boozer missed 80 of his first 164 regular-season games with the Jazz from 2004-2006.

"The only thing that happened was that people were on his butt because he didn't play," Sloan said. "When he played, I didn't have a problem at all. He was a terrific guy to coach, and he was just a heckuva player.

"My relationship with him I thought was fine. We weren't dinner buddies or anything like that, but we appreciated what he did and what he brought to our team every night because when you lose a player with those kinds of abilities it's not easy to replace."

Boozer returns to Utah with two former Jazz teammates in Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver, who signed with the Bulls as free agents over the summer. Sloan, whose Jazz are 31-22 and three games back of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Midwest Division, said the Jazz moved on after the departure of three key players from last season's team.

"What are you going to do about it? Our job remains the same," Sloan said. "We try to coach whoever's here. It doesn't make any difference what the situation is and hopefully we can make them better and make the team halfway decent, right?

"I don't cry around if I don't get the guys that I want or that sort of thing. This organization's always tried to do things the right way. And we don't spend a lot of money in those situations generally speaking. I've always known the parameters I work under. That's never been a problem with me at all."

Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.