The Utah Jazz will match the four-year, $32 million offer the Portland Trail Blazers tendered their restricted free agent Paul Millsap, the team posted on its Web site and a league source confirmed to ESPN.com Thursday evening.
Under the terms of the contract, the Jazz, which stated all summer that it would match any offer Millsap received, will have to pay the 24-year-old forward $10.3 million this weekend. Portland had front-loaded the contract to discourage Utah from matching.
A formal announcement was scheduled for Friday, the last day Utah can match the Portland offer.
Utah’s decision is likely to set in motion a string of moves by both teams. The Jazz, whose payroll will balloon to roughly $84 million, will continue trying to trade All-Star forward Carlos Boozer. If the Jazz don’t move Boozer before next season’s February trade deadline, they will have to pay a luxury tax of nearly $15 million.
The team recently told Boozer, who will make $12.7 million this season, that he is not in its long-term plans, and Boozer responded by telling the Jazz to trade him. Chicago, Miami and New York are among the most interested teams.
Before the Blazers made their offer to Millsap, the club was in preliminary talks with Utah and Chicago about a three-team trade that would send Boozer to the Bulls, Chicago point guard Kirk Hinrich to Portland and Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas to the Jazz. Now that Portland recoups the roughly $8 million in salary cap space it used to make the offer to Millsap, those trade talks could be revisited.
The Blazers could also decide to go after Los Angeles Lakers‘ forward Lamar Odom. Negotiations between Odom and the Lakers have stalled, as Los Angeles recently took its three-year, $27 million offer off the table.
Portland has showed little interest in Odom to this point, a fact that baffles several executives around the league, but after coming up short in its attempts to add Hedo Turkoglu and now Millsap, perhaps the Blazers will set their sights on Odom. Not only would such a move strengthen Portland but it also would weaken the defending champion Lakers.
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