Cavaliers make last-ditch offer to Boozer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 14, 2004

CLEVELAND - The Cavaliers have made Carlos Boozer a last-ditch offer to try to keep the power forward in Cleveland.

It doesn't seem likely.

Boozer told The Plain Dealer that he doesn't trust the team's sincerity and plans to accept a six-year, $68 million offer with Utah on Wednesday. The Cavaliers would have 15 days to match the Jazz's offer, but the team currently doesn't have enough money under the salary cap.

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Trying to keep one of their star players, the Cavaliers have offered Boozer a one-year contract worth about $5 million, The Associated Press learned.

If Boozer accepts the Cavs' new offer, which was confirmed Monday to the AP by a source close to the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity, he would put himself in position to be eligible next summer for an even larger contract than the ones Utah and Cleveland have offered.

But Boozer doesn't sound like someone who wants to play in Cleveland.

Boozer told The Plain Dealer in a telephone interview that he doesn't believe the Cavaliers are sincere with the latest offer because he thinks they've unfairly criticized his character over the past week.

''Why would they try to sign me?'' Boozer said. ''They've tried to demoralize me as a human being. They tried to depict me as a kind of guy that bamboozled people.''

The Cavaliers didn't have any immediate comment on Boozer's remarks.

Boozer's reputation has taken a beating over the past week after he stunned Cleveland by agreeing to accept the offer from Utah.

The Cavs had declined to exercise a $695,000 option on Boozer's contract - thereby making him a restricted free agent - in the belief he would accept a six-year, $41 million deal to remain in Cleveland.

The move backfired when Boozer reneged on a verbal understanding with the Cavs and decided to take $27 million more from Utah.

Boozer, the Cavs' second-round draft pick (No. 35 overall) in 2002, is coming off a breakout season in which he averaged 15.5 points and 11.4 rebounds.

In a Monday interview with The Plain Dealer, Boozer said he never gave the Cavaliers his word that he would stay in Cleveland.

Boozer's decision has been heavily criticized around the NBA, with agents and team executives saying it has undermined the mutual trust many of them have for one another.

Boozer and his agent, Rob Pelinka, did not return numerous phone calls by the AP on Monday and Tuesday.

Pelinka's boss, Arn Tellem, did not return a call seeking comment on reports that his agency, SFX, has decided to part ways with Boozer in the wake of the contract fiasco.

Boozer defended Pelinka in the newspaper interview.

''He's taken a lot of heat for something he doesn't need to take heat for,'' Boozer said. ''This is the Cavs' mistake. The Cavs created this.''