Word on the Street

Pull A Boozer (puhl a booz’-uhr) noun. When a player makes an off-the-record agreement to sign a contract with one team and then subsequently breaks that agreement to sign with another team, usually for more money and/or a better opportunity.

Usage example: From Falk’s hands all over Brand’s move to Philly by Adrian Wojnarowski. “Several executives still believed, in the words of one Eastern Conference GM, that ‘Brand had pulled a Boozer.’ Translated: Brand backed out of a preordained deal, which could explain why the Clippers were so stubborn about elevating the original $70 million offer that they made him in the wake of the opt-out.”

Word history: Carlos Boozer had a semi-breakout year during the 2003-04 season, averaging 15.5 points (on 52 percent shooting) and 11.4 rebounds per game. During the summer, his team – the Cleveland Cavaliers – had a tough decision to make: Keep him under contract for one more year at a salary of $695,000 or let him become a restricted free agent. Boozer and his agent agreed – off the record, of course – to sign a 6-year, $39 million contract with the Cavs if they just let him out of the last year of his current deal.

So, in an effort to appease (and yet retain) a valued player, the Cavaliers let Boozer out of the last year of his contract …and he promptly signed an offer sheet with the Jazz worth $68 million over six years.

Under the rules of restricted free agency, Cleveland had the option to match Utah’s offer, but they were already over the salary cap. This meant that, unless they started cutting players right and left, they could match only up to the Mid-level exception (which was far less money than what Utah was offering). So, in the end, the Cavaliers could not and did not to re-sign him.

Naturally, Boozer denied that he made any under-the-table agreements with the Cavs: “There was no commitment. It’s unfortunate how the turn of events went through the media. I’m not a guy that gives my word and takes it away. I think I’ve made that clear.” Oh yes, Carlos. Crystal clear.

Meanwhile, Cavaliers owner Gordon Gund – who as most people know is blind – was bitter over getting jobbed by his former employee, and he expressed that bitterness in a letter to the Cleveland fans. “In the final analysis, I decided to trust Carlos and show him the respect he asked for. He did not show that trust and respect in return.”

The more things change, the more they don’t. I mean, all Elton Brand wanted was for the Clippers to bring in some more help, and he was willing to take less money to make that happen, right?

Right. And maybe I’m a Chinese jet pilot.

In case you forgot, this is what Brand said a little over a week ago when he decided to forego the final year of his contract (and $16+ million): “We’re opting out. It definitely doesn’t mean I’m leaving the Clippers. We’re trying to work it out. My intention is to stay.” Brand even suggested he’d be willing to re-sign for a reduced salary so that the team could bring in some better players and become more competitive.

Then Brand’s agent, David Falk, talked up how his client simply wanted the Clips to nab a big-time free agent – which they did – to give the team a better chance of winning. “It preserves options to make the team better. Clearly, if Elton decided he wanted to simply max out the dollars, he would have stayed in the deal, had a monster year, and a lot more teams will have cap room next year.”

Falk laid it on even thicker when he said that a visit to Boston for Game 2 of the NBA Finals was a big reason why Brand chose to opt out. “He watched what happened when a few stars get together and agree to have a communal effort. He said ‘That’s what I’d like to accomplish in my career.'”

But in the end, despite his delcaration of intent to remain a Clipper, Brand bolted for Philly so he could make a little more money and play in a weaker conference. Good luck with that, Elton. And by “good luck” I of course mean “I will enjoy watching you fail in Philadelphia.” I really hope Baron Davis does an off-the-heezay upside Brand’s head the first time the Clippers play the Sixers.

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Labels: Carlos Boozer / Baron Davis / Elton Brand / Los Angeles Clippers / Utah Jazz / Philadelphia 76ers / Cleveland Cavaliers / Gordon Gund / NBA Eastern Conference / NBA Finals / NBA / Word on the Street

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