Carlos Boozer has a tough decision ahead of him tomorrow. Boozer has until 5 p.m. on Tuesday to decide whether to exercise a player option on his contract with the Utah Jazz. The contract is set to pay Boozer $12.7 million next season if he opts in. Could he make more than that on the open market?
Boozer isn't so sure. Sources close to Boozer told ESPN.com that the power forward is still mulling his options and won't make a decision until Tuesday. However, sources say that there's a significant chance that Boozer will exercise his player option and return to the Jazz next season.
A few months ago, Boozer was much more confident about his decision. He told ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan that he was opting out in December. "I'm opting out. No matter what, I'm going to get a raise regardless," Boozer told ESPN.com. "I am going to opt out. I don't see why I wouldn't. I think it's a very good business decision for me and my family, but I'd also like to see what happens with the Jazz and stay here."
The landscape has changed a lot since Boozer made his statement in December. The financial meltdown has caused owners to pull back on spending. The free agent landscape is pretty dicey. Only three teams -- the Pistons, Thunder and Grizzlies -- have enough money under the cap to offer Boozer a substantial deal. Two of those teams, the Thunder and Grizzlies, are young teams in the process of rebuilding. Boozer is not in either team's plans, according to sources.
That leaves the Pistons and Jazz. For months it was assumed that Boozer would land in Detroit. But last week Pistons sources told ESPN.com that Boozer wasn't the team's highest priority and that if they pursued him, they weren't willing to give him the $13-15 million a year he's looking for.
The Jazz aren't in a great position to re-sign him either. Utah has to sign another free agent, Paul Millsap, and possibly a second, Mehmet Okur, if he opts out of his contract. Okur's agent told The Associated Press on Monday that his client was leaning toward opting out. Those two contracts would put the Jazz near the luxury tax threshold. It's unlikely they would go over to re-sign Boozer.
If neither the Pistons nor Jazz offered Boozer a contract, he might be forced to take the mid-level exception from a team -- a drastic $7 million pay cut for Boozer next season.
That, according to sources, is what is keeping Boozer up at night. If he opts out, he's taking a huge gamble ... one that few GMs expect him to take.
"As soon as it looked like the Pistons were the only team with the money and desire to pay him," one Eastern Conference GM said, "I knew Boozer would be changing his mind. Unless I knew for sure that the Pistons would pay me big bucks, you just can't make that gamble. I fully expect him to be back with the Jazz next year."
Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.