Thursday, July 15, 2004

Gund takes blame for Cavs' loss of Boozer

The Associated Press

CLEVELAND - Cleveland Cavaliers owner Gordon Gund took responsibility Wednesday for a decision making Carlos Boozer a restricted free agent, resulting in Boozer's decision to sign a six-year, $68 million offer sheet from the Utah Jazz.

The Cavaliers have the right to match Utah's offer within 15 days.

"We currently have no intention of matching Utah's offer to Carlos," Gund said in a statement.

The 6-foot-9, 260-pound Boozer played college basketball at Duke. He was the Cavs' second-round draft pick (No. 35 overall) in 2002. He emerged this season as a key part of the team by averaged 15.5 points and 11.4 rebounds.

His performance at power forward blended well with the speed and finesse style of LeBron James, the No. 1 overall pick in last year's NBA draft.

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 deal worth about $38.6 million.

When the Utah offer became known, Cleveland offered a one-year deal at nearly $5 million, which would have enabled Boozer to stay and test the free agent market next year.

"As the team owner, I made the decision not to pick up the option on Carlos' contract. Any criticism should be directed to me, not to (Cavs general manager) Jim Paxson.," Gund said.

Boozer has said he never had an agreement to a long-term deal.

"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," Gund said.

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