Pull a Boozer

Pull a Boozer (puhl a booz'-uhr) noun. When a player makes an off-the-record agreement to sign a contract with one team and then subsequently breaks that agreement to sign with another team, usually for more money and/or a better opportunity.

Usage example: From Falk’s hands all over Brand’s move to Philly by Adrian Wojnarowski. "Several executives still believed, in the words of one Eastern Conference GM, that 'Brand had pulled a Boozer.' Translated: Brand backed out of a preordained deal, which could explain why the Clippers were so stubborn about elevating the original $70 million offer that they made him in the wake of the opt-out."

Word history: Carlos Boozer had a semi-breakout year during the 2003-04 season, averaging 15.5 points (on 52 percent shooting) and 11.4 rebounds per game. During the summer, his team -- the Cleveland Cavaliers -- had a tough decision to make: Keep him under contract for one more year at a salary of $695,000 or let him become a restricted free agent. Boozer and his agent agreed -- off the record, of course -- to sign a 6-year, $39 million contract with the Cavs if they just let him out of the last year of his current deal.

So, in an effort to appease (and yet retain) a valued player, the Cavaliers let Boozer out of the last year of his contract...and he promptly signed an offer sheet with the Jazz worth $68 million over six years.

Under the rules of restricted free agency, Cleveland had the option to match Utah's offer, but they were already over the salary cap. This meant that, unless they started cutting players right and left, they could match only up to the Mid-level exception (which was far less money than what Utah was offering). So, in the end, the Cavaliers could not and did not to re-sign him.

Naturally, Boozer denied that he made any under-the-table agreements with the Cavs: "There was no commitment. It's unfortunate how the turn of events went through the media. I'm not a guy that gives my word and takes it away. I think I've made that clear." Oh yes, Carlos. Crystal clear.

Meanwhile, Cavaliers owner Gordon Gund -- who as most people know is blind -- was bitter over getting jobbed by his former employee, and he expressed that bitterness in a letter to the Cleveland fans. "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."

The more things change, the more they don't. I mean, all Elton Brand wanted was for the Clippers to bring in some more help, and he was willing to take less money to make that happen, right?

Right. And maybe I'm a Chinese jet pilot.

In case you forgot, this is what Brand said a little over a week ago when he decided to forego the final year of his contract (and $16+ million): "We're opting out. It definitely doesn't mean I'm leaving the Clippers. We're trying to work it out. My intention is to stay." Brand even suggested he'd be willing to re-sign for a reduced salary so that the team could bring in some better players and become more competitive.

Then Brand's agent, David Falk, talked up how his client simply wanted the Clips to nab a big-time free agent -- which they did -- to give the team a better chance of winning. "It preserves options to make the team better. Clearly, if Elton decided he wanted to simply max out the dollars, he would have stayed in the deal, had a monster year, and a lot more teams will have cap room next year."

Falk laid it on even thicker when he said that a visit to Boston for Game 2 of the NBA Finals was a big reason why Brand chose to opt out. "He watched what happened when a few stars get together and agree to have a communal effort. He said 'That's what I'd like to accomplish in my career.'"

But in the end, despite his delcaration of intent to remain a Clipper, Brand bolted for Philly so he could make a little more money and play in a weaker conference. Good luck with that, Elton. And by "good luck" I of course mean "I will enjoy watching you fail in Philadelphia." I really hope Baron Davis does an off-the-heezay upside Brand's head the first time the Clippers play the Sixers.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Didn´t Baron Davis pull a Boozer to? Guess he´s feeling pretty sick now, with both Brand and Maggette gone.

Actually I read somewere that Baron hasn´t signed yet, only giving his verbal agreement...wich, of course, isn´t worth the paper its written on.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
sturia, baron didn't pull a boozer...he tried to negotiate with the warriors THE PAST TWO YEARS and both times he got mullined with a lowball offer...also he'll probably still stay at clippers, no other team is gonna offer him anything close to the money he's gonna get in LA

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Like I said in my comment on the last thread, I have a tough time blaming Elton Brand for this simply because it's the Clippers he's leaving. If there's any team that's displayed a pattern of shaky, questionable moves and almost blatant disinterest in building a contender if it will cost a dime, it's the LA Clippers. Sterling seems to have made a change in the way he runs his club some point in the last 5 years and that he actually is now finally willing to spend money to build a winner, but if I was a big time free agent would I really want to gamble the remaining prime of my career on the hope that Sterling will continue to spend the money it takes to win? No, I definitely would not.

This sense of unease is ultimately why I think Kobe chose to sign with the Lakers instead of the Clippers back in the summer of 2004 (even though the Clips would have immediately fielded a much better team than the Lakers did in 2004-2005), and I think it's the reason that Brand just left. Brand may have even said he'd stay if they got a big free agent simply because he had little faith that they could do it, and then to his shock when they did he may have just said "even with getting Davis, I still don't want to bet on Sterling for the next 5-6 years." Brand definitely left the Clips in the lurch, no doubt about it, and he may have even lied to them on the way to doing so, but when your owner spends the first 20 years with his team building a reputation for being the cheapest owner in sports and a guy who has virtually installed a revolving door at the office of the head coach, well I just say you reap what you sow. You establish a long tradition of putting saving money over winning games and agents aren't going to forget that when it comes time to advise their clients.

Blogger Justin Tenuto said...
Dowjones is mostly right: Baron wanted more than Mullinellie was going to give, both sides got stubborn, then: voila. No BD. Of course, now he's on a terrible, terrible team. Enjoy passing to Chris Kaman. I always wanted to do that.

As for Brand, I mean, can you blame the guy? It's not like he left a real franchise: he left the Clippers. What team is lower-rent than the Clippers? The Grizz? The...Grizz?

Blogger Dunpizzle said...
Trivia of the day:

Question: How many people would leave 39mil offered by a blind guy on the table for 68mil even though they "verbally agreed" to the 39mil??

Answer: 6,602,224,175

You're lying to everyone and yourself if you say you would stick with the 39mil

Blogger Michael Hsu said...
Philly has a decent team, but they are not going anywhere in the next couple of years. They still need a little more time and plus they have to deal with this team called the Boston Celtics, which is in the same division. I don't know if anyone has ever heard of them. Iggy just has way too many turnovers and their team is still VERY inexperienced and only has up and coming players with no proven stars. I guess making the playoffs for Brand would be a huge improvement.

Yeah they are all pretty much morons. Having Davis, maggette, Brand, and Kaman on the same team is better then miller, iggy, brand, and dalambert.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say cash is king and if somebody offered me double my current salary to do the same job in a different city I'd take it in a heartbeat.

Screw it. If the league rules allow for this type of behavior, I won't take a "holier-than-thou" attitude toward players taking a better offer than what they have at home.

It's tough for fans to see players go through the revolving door year in and year out, but that is the reality, and I think the frustration should not be directed at the players, but at the league office which has facilitated this type of environment.

Of course, I am from Alaska, so Carlos Boozer could hijack a school bus and run it off a cliff and I'd still back him. Same for Trajan Langdon or Mario Chalmers or Scott Gomez or Ty Conklin or.......

Blogger Basketbawful said...
sturla -- As some other have pointed out, Baron really didn't do that. He'd been trying to work otu a deal with Golden State for a while...they just didn't want to meet his numbers.

dowjones -- Yup.

wild yams -- My problem with Brand isn't the leaving. Players have the right to do what's best for them. I'm cool with that. My problem is that, like many players, he tried to play it both ways. To the press, he seemingly put winning and team loyalty over money, and stated that he wanted to stay. Then everything suddenly changes and he goes for the money. See, we all, as human beings, understand it's all about the $$. But when athletes pretend otherwise and then go for the $$...well, that's douchey to me.

justin -- Like I just said to yams, my only problem is that he wants to leave Clipperland and get a bigger paycheck, but also come off as a loyal guy who really wanted to be a Clipper. Can't have it both ways.

dunpizzle -- It's not that Boozer went for the money that bugged me, it's that he lied and manipulated to do it. There's NO WAY the Cavs would have let him out of that contract if he hadn't promised to immediately re-sign with them. NO. WAY. He lied to get out of a contract and then backstabbed the team that was trying to take care of him. That's what's dirty, not going for the money.

mike -- Yeah, I think Brand improves the Sixers, but I'm not sure I think it makes them contenders. They overachieved over the second half of last season, and that always makes people think a team is ready to make The Leap. Doesn't always work out that way. Just ask the Golden State Warriors.

ak dave -- Not to be repetitive, but my problem isn't with the greed, per se. If somebody offered to pay me more than the $0 I make from Basketbawful, I'd freaking do it. If ESPN wanted to buy me for big bucks but said I couldn't make fun of Kobe and I had to stop making penis jokes, I'd do it. But I wouldn't write a post telling my readers not to worry, nothing's going to change and then change everything. You know?

Blogger Raptor said...
Normally, I'd say go for the money, but this time he involved Baron in his crazy schemes.

That's like calling your friend to opt out of his big contract working at the corporate office of Outback Steak house to come help you start a small restaurant, then after he signs his half of the lease telling him, "F- you I just signed a big deal to become CEO of TGIFridays."

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Sounds like we're all on the same page here- yeah it's prime and undeniable douchebaggery, and yet, somehow understandable. I honestly don't know if my "good word" or "credibility" is worth $30 million. Honestly- I don't think it's worth half of that.

Kinda like the ol' Chris Rock: 'I'm not sayin it's OK.... but I UNDERSTAND.'

Raptor: LMFAO!!

'Bawful: if you DID flip-flop like that... I'd still read your stuff, even sans Kobe-hatred and penis jokes.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Mr. Bawful, an athlete saying he'd prefer to stay with the team he's with is such standard athlete-speak that Nuke LaLoosh might as well be saying it. There are rare instances where an athlete at the end of his contract will openly be pining to leave (see Lamar Odom at the end of his Clipper contract), but for the most part they always say they'd prefer to stay where they're at. Then when they leave they pull the "gotta do what's best for my family" stuff. I don't think there's any reason to be upset at Elton Brand for this. He hasn't screwed the Clippers any more than any other free agent leaving for a new team ever has. The Clippers could even back out of the Baron Davis deal if they wanted to just cut their losses and fully go in the tank with as little salary as possible.

I mean, come on, when Brand came back with only 8 games left in the season and his team headed to the lottery, was there really any doubt he was leaving? Myopic Clipper fans (the few Clipper fans that there are must be myopic) may not have seen it coming, but it was as clear as could be that he was leaving. I'm telling you, him saying that he wanted to opt out to let the Clippers use the money to get a good free agent was just typical nonsense athlete-speak and he was planning to leave all along. Hell, HP even posted that Brand put his house on the market back in May! I think Brand was as shocked as the rest of us when the Clippers actually signed Davis, and maybe that gave him a moment of pause, but if you were Brand would you really want to take less money to stay with the Clippers of all teams!?

Let's be realistic: does anyone think the Clippers will ever make the Finals let alone win a title while Donald Sterling is the owner? It's never going to happen. If you were Elton Brand, would you really be able to trust that Sterling would year after year make the financial commitment to delivering the Clippers a title? Me neither. Factoring in the huge disparity between the East and West just in terms of ease with which a team can qualify for the playoffs, and this is a no-brainer. No, it doesn't make the Sixers immediate title contenders, but the Clippers with Brand and Davis isn't even a lock to make the playoffs. Plus Philly is really young and might be able to move to the top of the East once Detroit and Boston are too old and LeBron leaves for whatever's waiting for him in NY/Brooklyn. But there's no way the Clippers were gonna suddenly rise above the Lakers, Jazz, Hornets and Blazers to be a top team in the West.

Brand made the right move. Maybe he should have never even spoken about what could happen this summer, but if he'd just come out and said "I want out of LA" then maybe the other teams out there wouldn't have offered him as much as they did to try to lure him away. Basketball is a business, there's no getting around that.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
raptor -- Yeah. I'm fairly certain Davis assumed Brand would re-sign when he agreed to become the Baron of Clipperland. Sucks to be Baron.

ak dave -- I can't pretend to even guess at what it would be like to have tens of millions of dollars being thrown at me. It's beyond my ability to comprehend. Kind of like putting shredded lettuce on a hamburger.

wild yams -- If you remember, I openly stated several times that Brand's comeback at the end of last season was an audition for other teams. Yeah, I knew he wanted to leave, and I don't disagree with any of your reasoning. What I really hate is how ballers try to come off like their first loyalty (ha!) is to their current team, even though what they want most of all is to leave, or to go wherever the money is. They want to protect their image even though they know they are betraying a fan base and feeding into the growing cynacism of NBA fans and the American public in general.

Note that I had no problems with Baron leaving the Warriors. He said up front that he was doing what was best for him, personally (going home) and financially. And he thanked the Warrior fans for supporting him. That's the way it is, and that's how you do it.

But Brand -- whom I really thought was above this stuff -- made waves about wanting to remain a Clipper, claimed he'd be willing to take less money if they went out and bought somebody, etc. I seriously question whether the Clippers would have spent that money on Davis if they knew Brand wasn't staying. They might have gone another direction. So it's not just him doing what's best for him, and lying, he affected the ongoing fate of an entire franchise and every owner, manager, trainer and employee involved with it by not just stating his true intentions up front.

And that's a dick move.

Blogger Five Pound Bag said...
Both went to Duke, so no doubt Kryzshshweksheskwi's greasy little rat prints were all over their situational ethics.

Boo Coach K!

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Am I wrong or couldn't either the Clippers or Davis or both back out of their verbal agreement now that Brand is leaving? If so, then Brand hasn't screwed Davis and he hasn't screwed the Clippers any more than any other departing FA does to his former team.

As for the fanbase or equipment managers or whomever who are stung by Brand's "sudden reversal" all I can say is open your eyes. The guy played the last 8 games of the year when his team was in the deep end of the tank and then he put his home on the market weeks before he can exercise his opt out. Hmmm... I wonder what that could mean. Actions speak louder than words, people. Quit listening to what athletes say through their agents or publicists or whomever and instead be realistic in your expectations of these people. You'd play for the team you grew up hating if you could make tens of millions of dollars to do it too. Always assume if a player takes less money it's the exception, not the rule, and don't believe anything until it is signed and confirmed. My last word of advice is this: if you want to avoid disappointment don't root for the Clippers. They might as well have Charlie Brown as their mascot.

Here's a picture of how Clipper Nation is feeling right now, in case you wanted to use it somewhere.

Blogger Robin said...

"The first thing Coach K teaches you is loyalty. How to manipulate others' loyalty."

Blogger Raptor said...
Yams, I don't think anyone here argues with the point that they'd 9 times out of 10 they'd go with the money. It's still a dick move.

You got a friend who opted out of a much more lucrative contract to come play with you, and you leave him. Sure he can try and find somewhere else to play but he's not gonna get the kind of money he was going to make with the Warriors and the clips are the only ones left standing with dough to spend.

Basically, it's last call at the bar and Brand took home both the supermodel twins he and Baron were hitting on for a little menage a trois, and left Baron with the moderately attractive friend. Baron's still gonna get some and, logically, he may understand Brand's motives, but you call it what it is and it's a dick move.

Blogger Victor said...
Not everyone chasing max dollars has to be a douchebag about it. Take Arenas for example. He flat out said he wanted Jamison resigned and to be offered a max contract. And then when he said he was going to negotiate with the team to save them some money, he actually did.

Is it really that hard to just tell the truth? Why can't Brand just MAN UP and be honest? I have no problem with him opting out and saying he wants to test free agency for max dollars and a better situation, but he's a jackass for trying to play it off as anything other than that.

It's really pretty despicable. There's nothing wrong with quitting your job because you want a better job with more money. Just tell the truth about it. This has nothing to do with hating Brand for greed, and everything to do with him being a fucking hypocrite.

I don't know if you guys follow baseball, but baseball players who go out and test free agency will just say they're going to. They don't go on some spiel about helping their current team. And players who do say they're willing to restructure and resign to save the team dollars (Chipper Jones, John Smoltz, for example) do actually do that. The whole contract structure is different, but the point is the same: Man the fuck up and don't be a lying hypocrite. There is nothing wrong with wanting max dollars elsewhere, but it makes you an asshole for pretending to be anything else.

I used to respect Brand as a player, but I can't do that anymore because I can't respect him as a man.

Blogger Unknown said...
I was ready to jump on the Clippers bandwagon this upcoming season. Glad that was all fixed up. I hope the Philly bandwagon still has room after last year's playoffs.

Poor Clippers. They're relevant for days at a time before returning to the abyss.

Could we be seeing a flashback to the 80s? Philly/Boston rivalry? KG/Brand? Sign me up!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Yams, I was scared that the last link you posted was to goatse or something.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
There's a Clipper Nation? Is that the same way Liechtenstein is a nation?

Blogger KNEE JERK NBA said...
Is it surprising to anyone that Brand split? He already tried to bail once (Miami) and Sterling matched, knowing full well that EB was salivating about leaving town. In a way, this could be viewed as justifiable revenge.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
LOL Yams, that picture was delightfully bittersweet.

-A Suns fan

Best story of Clipper nation (via Simmons): going from seeing movie stars wearing Lakers jerseys to seeing porn stars with custom Clippers jerseys advertising their websites

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Victor & Raptor: you guys are romantic idealists or something and to me sound like you're new to this whole NBA free agency thing. Sorry to be the one to tell you this but these basketball players are not heroes, they're just people, and basketball is not some gladiatorial quest of honor, in the end it is business and entertainment.

I don't think Brand was being a hypocrite or is this back-stabbing Judas that you guys are making him out to be. He didn't know what was going to happen anymore than anyone else did. Even big-time Clipper fans thought last week that Brand was probably saying he opted out so the Clippers could sign free agents just because he didn't really believe they'd be able to. Do you think when Brand made those comments he really knew that Baron Davis was going to opt out and immediately sign with the Clips? Do you think he then knew that the Warriors were going to outbid the Clippers for him by more than $20m? Did he know the Sixers were going to trade away some guys to Minnesota for a trade exception to clear more money for him? He couldn't have known all that. He said his preference was to stay, but then a better opportunity to win with more money presented itself. What would you have done?

Did Elton Brand really owe the Clippers anything? Does he still? In 2003 he tried to get away from the Clippers by signing a huge contract with Miami, but since he was a restricted free agent the Clippers matched the offer, despite Brand reportedly begging Sterling not to match it. So Brand did 5 years in Clipper Jail. 5 years in the prime of his career, no less.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the Clippers reaped what they sowed. If Sterling's flat out refusal to spend any money to build a winner for the first 20 years he was the team's owner didn't put a huge doubt in Brand's mind about the future success of the team, then Sterling's childish snit with Dunleavy and refusal to make any personnel moves this past year no doubt locked that up. From that LA Times article I linked to above:

Brand's opt-out came up this summer after a season that was all but canceled by his injury and that of Shaun Livingston. Worse, with Coach Mike Dunleavy in Sterling's doghouse, their front office was paralyzed.

Needing a point guard, they passed on a chance to get Beno Udrih for $300,000.

Then they passed up a trade which would have brought Memphis' Mike Miller for expiring contracts and their No. 1 pick, with Dunleavy unable even to make his case to Sterling.

You'd have left too, so quit being so judgmental. This doesn't make Brand an evil person or the poster boy for what is wrong with the league. The real problem in this whole situation is Donald Sterling, not Elton Brand, and until Sterling sells the Clippers you shouldn't expect many free agents to want to go there. Baron Davis went because he wants to go back to his hometown and start producing movies, and the Lakers can't afford him. He'll be happy enough doing that even without Elton Brand there by his side.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
wild yams -- Here's what I don't get. You want to basically excuse Brand for lying about -- or at the very least obfuscating -- his intentions, but you want to blast Vic and Raptor for being judgemental? Look, to me it seems a little nonsensical to defend a player's right to be a douche and yet castigate others for not liking it.

And really, I don't think that Victor, Raptor or myself are ragging on Brand for deciding, based on the many facts that you have kindly provided, not to remain a Clipper. What we don't like, what I will never like, is when a player feeds his team, the fans, the press, et al. a line of bullshit and then doing something completely different.

I don't like that from pro athletes, I don't like it from people I work with, or my friends, or myself. I would like to think that, if I were confronted with a similar unhappy situation, I would be man enough to stand up and say, "I don't like this. I'm going to leave." Or something a little more honest. I'm not asking Brand to donate a kidney or walk little old ladies across the street.

Expecting a little integrity is not the same as being a romantic idealist. Nor is it a sign that we don't know how things like this work. But that does not mean we have to like it, nor does it mean we have to keep our mouths shut about it. It's fine if you and I disagree on this point, but please try not to be so condescending about it. I mean...how can you call someone a romantic idealist and say that the Clippers essentially deserve to get screwed over, and then call someone else judgemental? How does that make sense? Please tell me.

Blogger Cortez said...
Brand's actions were just fine.

How do ANY of us know what his intentions were with regards to staying or leaving? And, more importantly, why concern yourselves with it?

Furthermore, stop believing this "good friend" nonsense about these players. At most, they are simply associates in the work place on friendly terms 95% of the time.

"Basically, it's last call at the bar and Brand took home both the supermodel twins he and Baron were hitting on for a little menage a trois, and left Baron with the moderately attractive friend."

Kudos to Elton!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
As usual, great article and comments. I'm not sure I would go so far as to say that the Cavs were trying to "take care of" Boozer by offering him a contract that was (1) $30 million under fair market value and (2) was not allowed under NBA rules (see Minnesota incident).

Blogger Wild Yams said...
OK, I'll try to clarify myself on this: I don't "excuse" Brand for what he did, I just expect it from him cause he's a pro athlete, and pro athletes for a long time now will say one thing in the press and do another. All I'm saying is anyone who has high standards for these guys is just being unrealistic.

None of us knows what's really going on with any of these guys or what goes on behind the scenes or even if the press is doing a good job in reporting what they see or are told. Especially during the off-season I've learned to not believe a word of what anyone says until it is officially announced as a done deal. You guys are acting so shocked and appalled, like this stuff doesn't happen every single year. Grow up, it's a business and these players (who probably aren't too savvy off the court in the first place) have some of the most morality-challenged leeches in the world whispering in their ear round the clock, especially when the free agent period begins. Expect them to say whatever will net them the better deal for themselves and don't pin your hopes as a fan to some optimistically vague quote a guy makes before a deal is signed.

What Brand did is just business, just as saying his preference was to stay with the Clippers was just business. What he did was no different than what almost every other big free agent has done at one point or another. You guys thought Brand was different for some reason? This is his first time as an unrestricted free agent, so why did you think he'd be different? He probably acted like a douche, but there's bigger things to be upset about. If I was a Clipper fan I'd be too busy being furious with Donald Sterling to even worry about Elton Brand, and would see this latest fiasco as yet another sign that Sterling needs to sell the team. Since I'm not a Clipper fan, I look at what happened to them as poetic justice for twenty years of putting money ahead of winning. I guess I've got some sympathy for the few Clipper fans out there, but if they're not used to this kind of disappointment then they haven't been rooting for the team for long, and if they have been rooting for the team for a long time then they must be gluttons for punishment anyway.

Blogger LotharBot said...
Love to see this pop up as word of the day.

"I will enjoy watching you fail in Philadelphia." -- I think what Brand is doing in Philly is beyond fail.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"who as most people know is blind". A totally unnecessary remark. Not offensive, of course, but think twice, what does it add to the story?