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4 UTAH JAZZ
Elizabeth McGarr
October 26, 2009
WHEN POWER forward Paul Millsap returned to Salt Lake City after a weeklong stay with his family in Downsville, La., he knew he had to hit the gym. After all, his family had thrown a homecoming party complete with barbecued ribs, beef, pork, chicken, baked beans, potato salad and a giant cake with his likeness on it. The fourth-year player needed to work off the calories, but he had another incentive: He had to prove he was worth the $32 million over four years—including $10.3 million up front—Utah had just decided to spend on him, matching the offer sheet he had signed with the Trail Blazers.
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October 26, 2009

4 Utah Jazz

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PG DERON WILLIAMS PPG: 19.4 APG: 10.7 RPG: 2.9 SPG: 1.07 FG%: 47.1
SG RONNIE BREWER PPG: 13.7 APG: 2.2 RPG: 3.7 SPG: 1.70 FG%: 50.8
SF ANDREI KIRILENKO PPG: 11.6 RPG: 4.8 BPG: 1.15 SPG: 1.24 FG%: 44.9
PF CARLOS BOOZER PPG: 16.2 RPG: 10.4 APG: 2.1 SPG: 1.05 FG%: 49.0
C MEHMET OKUR PPG: 17.0 RPG: 7.7 APG: 1.7 FG%: 48.5 3FG%: 44.6

WHEN POWER forward Paul Millsap returned to Salt Lake City after a weeklong stay with his family in Downsville, La., he knew he had to hit the gym. After all, his family had thrown a homecoming party complete with barbecued ribs, beef, pork, chicken, baked beans, potato salad and a giant cake with his likeness on it. The fourth-year player needed to work off the calories, but he had another incentive: He had to prove he was worth the $32 million over four years—including $10.3 million up front—Utah had just decided to spend on him, matching the offer sheet he had signed with the Trail Blazers.

The Jazz's decision to match was a complicated one because starting power forward Carlos Boozer had announced that he would play out the final year of his contract rather than become a free agent, as many expected he would. It was only when Boozer was out last season—he missed 45 games with a left knee injury—that the 6'8", 250-pound Millsap demonstrated his value. As a starter he averaged 16.0 points and 10.3 rebounds in 38 games, and the team's record didn't suffer. "He's proven he can rebound, and with Deron [Williams] running the show, he's able to get points," says G.M. Kevin O'Connor. "The biggest thing we see is a kid who continues to improve."

Boozer has said he wants to be traded, but until that happens he and Millsap will be part of a big-man rotation with sharpshooting center Mehmet Okur. The extra conditioning work Millsap put in over the summer has improved his quickness—"His body's changed, and his look is a lot more clean and faster off the floor," says assistant coach Tyrone Corbin—and will enable him to get minutes at small forward. "I wish I would have done [the conditioning] the last three years," says Millsap. "I can just do more now."

The team that's paying him big bucks will give him every chance to prove that.

PROJECTED STARTING FIVE with 2008--09 statistics

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

KEY BENCH PLAYERS: F Paul Millsap, 8.6 RPG; G-F C.J. Miles, 9.1 PPG; G-F Kyle Korver, 38.6 3FG%; G Ronnie Price, 2.1 APG

COACH: Jerry Sloan (22nd season with Jazz)2008--09 RECORD: 48--34 (third in Northwest)

POINTS SCORED: 103.6 (seventh in NBA)POINTS ALLOWED: 100.9 (tied for 18th in NBA)

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