Oklahoma City will learn today whether it has landed its first NBA free agent. The seven-day grace period the Utah Jazz had to decide whether they will match Oklahoma City's four-year, $15 million offer sheet to C.J. Miles expires today. If the Jazz decline to match the team's offer, Miles will join Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook as the franchise's building blocks. At issue for Utah is whether it can afford to risk reaching the luxury tax threshold during the 2009-10 season by retaining Miles. The Jazz currently have player contracts totaling about $61.5 million, which exceeds the $58.68 million salary cap set for next season but is about $10 million shy of the $71.15 million tax level. Under NBA collective bargaining agreement rules, any team whose salary exceeds the tax level must pay a $1 tax for each $1 it exceeds. By retaining Miles, Utah could approach the tax threshold next summer. That's when point guard Deron Williams' recently signed contract extension kicks in, in addition to Utah also owing Andrei Kirilenko $16.4 million and Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur a combined $21.6 million if neither opts out of the final year of their contracts. Perhaps further complicating matters for the Jazz is Paul Millsap is entering the final year of his contract, and Utah likely will want to re-sign the low-post bruiser. Millsap, who will make the third-year player league minimum $797,581 next season, could be in store for a hefty raise in 2009-10 if he uses this year to build on a solid first two seasons. Salary issues aside, Utah is in a position to let Miles walk. The Jazz have shooting guards Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and Morris Almond already on the roster. Korver is only 27 while Brewer and Almond are both 23. From a financial standpoint, Korver has three years and $15.4 million remaining on his contract. Brewer has next year's guaranteed $1.8 million salary and a team option for 2009-10 before entering restricted free agency in 2010-11 and Almond will receive a guaranteed $1 million next year with team options in the following two seasons before becoming a restricted free agent in 2011-12. That means Utah must decide whether Miles is a better long-term prospect than Korver, Brewer or Almond and is worth retaining at the expense of salary cap consequences. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound shooting guard is entering his fourth NBA season despite being only 21. He was a second-round pick of the Jazz in 2005 out of Dallas' Skyline High School and holds career averages of 4.0 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 120 games. His statistics, however, don't tell the story of his potential, the reason Utah took a chance on him with the 34th overall pick and why Oklahoma City is looking to lure the unproven prospect with a lucrative offer. Miles, who originally committed to Texas before turning pro, could develop into an all-around weapon if given the chance. He averaged 23.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists as a senior at Skyline High but has averaged just 10.5 minutes in the NBA. "He's ready to be a rotation player this year, and maybe two years away or even the (2009-10) season could be contending for a starting spot,” said one Eastern Conference executive speaking on the condition of anonymity. "I don't think (Oklahoma City) would have signed him without thinking he could play right now. At this point I don't think they're signing him for another year of development like he's basically done in Utah. I think they're signing him expecting him to be in the seven, eight, nine man rotation for sure.” We'll find out today whether Utah keeps that from happening.
C.J. Miles has averaged 4.0 points and 1.3 rebounds in 120 games as a pro. ASSOCIATED PRESS