Update: Boozer is staying put.
Carlos Boozer is potentially the biggest name on the free agent block, so needless to say, there's a lot of chatter about whether he'll actually opt out. From ESPN's Chad Ford:
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.
Boozer is currently slated to earn $12.7 million in 2009-10, so conventional wisdom dictates that the only way he'd leave that much money on the table by opting out was if he was assured of making at least as much with a new contract, right? Maybe.
But perhaps there's another scenario worth considering.
Why does this matter?
Should they officially separate, word on the street is that Boozer's wife is entitled to half of his current contract, but since divorce papers have already been filed, she has no claim on any new contract. I'm hardly a lawyer, but I can add and subtract, so if this is true, it means Boozer would actually take home more money if he signed a one-year, $6.5 million contract than if he stayed put and earned $12.7 million. Or, from Detroit's perspective, thinking Boozer might bite on a multi-year deal with a starting salary of $10 million is suddenly no longer a reach.
Of course, let me add one huge caveat that can't be overstated:
I don't know if this is actually true.
I first heard this theory from a friend, who heard it being discussed as fact on the radio by a Cleveland newspaper writer whose name escaped him on Sunday. My Google-fu suggests it may have been the extremely plugged-in Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, both from this message board posting and from comments he made in his blog back in March:
Just heard that Carlos Boozer has filed for divorce from his wife, CeCe. It surprised no one here at The Q and that is all I will say about that for now. CeCe played a major role in Boozer leaving the Cavs five years ago, in fact she may have played the biggest role. Certainly makes things interesting for this summer, when I am now sure Boozer will opt out. He won't want to owe her any of his new contract, I assume.
Did anyone else hear this? Has anyone else seen this scenario being suggested in print? Has the media largely ignored this angle out of respect for a delicate personal situation, or because it's simply not true? Sadly, I don't know the answers to any of these questions, but I'd love to hear from anybody in Cleveland and/or Salt Lake City who may have been paying closer attention.