In an offseason that could have shredded the Jazz roster, things have fallen right into place. Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur and Kyle Korver all exercised their player option and chose to return to Utah rather than become unrestricted free agents. The Jazz even signed Okur to a 2-year extension worth $20.8 million rather than risk losing him next summer.
Then, just when it seemed like The Jazz were going to lose emerging power forward Paul Millsap, they decided to pony up the money and match the 4-year, $32 million offer sheet that the restricted free agent signed with the Blazers. Portland thought by front-loading the contract and giving Millsap a first-year salary of $10.3 million that Utah would shy away from bringing him back. That wasn't the case. (By the way, if we were keeping score, Portland is now 0-2 in trying to land a premier free agent.)
Millsap proved to be more than just a physical, energy bench guy when Boozer was riddled with injury this past season. Millsap started in 38 games, posting 29 double-doubles. Jazz management was so impressed with his performance that they ultimately chose to re-sign Millsap as a replacement for Boozer, who is the final year of his contract.
Since matching Portland's offer, Utah has pretty much settled on the fact that they will be trading Boozer with general manager Kevin O'Conner even admitting a trade was "imminent." The Jazz realize that even if Boozer ends up playing all season in Salt Lake City, the odds of him re-signing with the team are very slim. With Millsap's new guaranteed 4-year contract, the odds have become pretty much non-existent.
You can't blame Utah for their decision. Four years of Millsap is a much better option than one year of the injury-prone Boozer with the near guarantee of him heading elsewhere next offseason. Now, the Jazz face the challenge of finding a suitor for Boozer with two goals in mind... 1) Trim some salary off their massive $84 million team payroll and 2) not give him away without getting something of value in return.
Even with Utah bringing back all their key players from last year, they still are a step or two behind the elite teams in the West like the Lakers and Spurs. Depending on whom the Jazz get in exchange for Boozer, it could vault them into the race for the Western Conference crown, but until then, Utah is still playing catch-up.