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Jazz looking forward to real opponent

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SPOKANE, Wash. — After 11 days of playing against no one but themselves, the Jazz have an opponent.

And it's about time, Jerry Sloan says.

"We do need a game," the Jazz coach said, "because it's been too long."

An early October trip to Russia that was to include Utah's first game of the preseason was canceled due to security concerns, so the Jazz's visit tonight with Seattle at Spokane Arena here is their exhibition opener.

Sloan said Saturday he was not certain who would start, though it's quite likely returning starter Carlos Arroyo will open at the point.

Backup point Raul Lopez, still rehabbing to strengthen muscles around his twice surgically reconstructed knee, did not travel. Lopez remains out indefinitely and will not take any trips until he is ready to return to practice.

All of the Jazz's other 16 players in camp came to Spokane.

BOOZER'S BLUES: New Jazz power forward Carlos Boozer, the subject of a feature story in the Oct. 25 issue of ESPN The Magazine, told author Ric Bucher he still is feeling the pain of having his name sullied by details of his controversial departure from Cleveland for Utah this past summer.

"I'm not Boozer anymore," he said. "I'm a bamboozler."

Boozer and his wife, however, came across as having no regrets over their move to Utah.

"Maybe it's our fault for never saying we didn't want to stay in Cleveland or didn't want a new deal," CeCe Boozer told the magazine. "But we also never agreed to anything, either. We learned the NBA is just a business and we're a speed bump. When we're gone, that train will keep going."

Boozer said he received support and congratulations from several players around the NBA after the move, including Baron Davis, Tony Battie and Juwan Howard.

HOT ROD EXTENDED: The Jazz have reached a verbal agreement to extend Hot Rod Hundley's contract, the team's longtime play-by-play announcer said Saturday.

The pact probably will not be signed by Hundley, who turns 70 on Oct. 26 and has been with the franchise since its 1974 inception in New Orleans, until either late this month or early next month.

Hundley said the deal is guaranteed for three years beyond this season, with a mutual options on two more seasons after that. It will probably be his last contract, as he'll be 75 at the end of the deal — but he has no qualms about signing up for another run.

"I still enjoy it," Hundley said. "It's fun — and I find myself getting kind of bored sitting around and doing very little at the end of each summer."

The team will simulcast radio and TV calls for at least this season, but Hundley said he'll switch to radio only should the Jazz decide to split the two broadcasts sometime in the future.

VISIT PLANNED: NBA all-time steals and assists leader John Stockton, a Spokane native who relocated his family there after retiring from the Jazz, will visit the team's shootaround this morning.

LOCAL TIES: According to Saturday's Bergen (N.J.) Record, former Jazz swingman and unhappy Knick Shandon Anderson said it looks unlikely New York will buy out his contract. . . . The Denver Nuggets on Friday waived Desmond Penigar, the former Utah State player who played 10 games for the Orlando Magic and was the NBDL's Rookie of the Year last season. . . . Ex-Jazz swingman Bryon Russell remains in Nuggets camp with a non-guaranteed contract.


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com