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Agent fires player

The Carlos Boozer affair is getting increasingly interesting. Boozer was drafted out of Duke by the Cavaliers in the 2nd round of the 2002 NBA draft. He signed a modest contract, and after two surprisingly good seasons, was one year away from a big payday. Apparently, he did not want his financial future at risk, and persuaded the Cavaliers front office to decline their option to pay him $695,000 next season, making him a restricted free agent.

Boozer then went and negotiated a six year, $68 million contract with the Utah Jazz, valuing him roughly at about $11m per season. Cavalier management would appear to have made a $10 million mistake by not exercising their option. Why would they do something that stupid? Apparently, because Boozer and his agent requested the move, on the understanding that he would accept a deal in the neighborhood of $41 million over six years, the maximum the Cavs could offer under league rules. But the rules outlaw an explicit contract at this stage, so the deal could not be closed.

That Jazz contract suggests that the Cavs were not stupid in agreeing to Boozer's request - assuming that they were dealing with an honest, and not duplicitous player. Had the intended deal gone through, Boozer would have his financial security, and the Cavs would have obtained a long term bargain (at 60% of the sticker price) by giving up their rights to a short term windfall (paying $695,000 for a $10 million player for one season). Everyone is a winner.

Instead, Boozer has poisoned the well of trust in the NBA. Trust is essential in repeated bargaining, particularly when technicalities eliminate the ability to write explicit contracts as in this case. SFX Sports Group, who represented Boozer, have terminated their relationship after they "could not convince Boozer to live up to his promise of re-signing with Cleveland." The particular agent involved, Rob Pelinka, may also be on his way out of SFX, who apparently understand that their reputation is worth more than the $2.7 million commission on the Utah contract. Ian Thomsen at has the story.