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Boozer hoping for quick return

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PHOENIX — Carlos Boozer holds out hope he can return from a leg-bone fracture just in time for the Feb. 18 NBA All-Star Game.

He may want to readjust his planning calendar.

If Boozer is to play in Las Vegas, the Jazz would first want their leading scorer and rebounder to play at least one game for them.

"That would be our thinking — that he has to perform for us before he performs in an All-Star Game," Jazz basketball operations senior vice president Kevin O'Connor said Friday, one day after Boozer was named as Western Conference reserve. "But, then again, nothing's set in stone."

Boozer sustained a hairline fracture in the fibula bone head leading into his knee last Saturday. The Jazz said in a statement Wednesday that typically takes four to five weeks to heal, and Boozer himself said he expects to be out that long.

But Boozer also said Thursday his doctors told him they've had patients who've recovered from such an injury in two to three weeks, which is why he hasn't ruled out the game in Vegas — which comes three weeks and one day after the injury occurred.

The Jazz's final game before the NBA All-Star break? That would be against Boozer's former team, Cleveland, on Feb. 14 in Utah — roughly two-and-a-half weeks after he got hurt.

If Boozer doesn't play in the All-Star Game, NBA commissioner David Stern would name his injury replacement. There is no known set timetable, though, for when Boozer must make his availability status known.

OKUR BUMMED: Jazz center Mehmet Okur on Friday admitted to being rather disappointed he wasn't named Thursday to the All-Star Game with Boozer.

"I am," he said, "because, I mean ... look at our (30-17) record. I think we're doing good this year."

His implication: The Jazz deserve more than one All-Star.

Okur, though, holds out hope Stern will name him as an injury replacement — either for Houston center Yao Ming or for Boozer should he not play.

"I still have a chance, I guess," he said. "That's what I believe at this moment."

As for perhaps taking part in the NBA's 3-point shooting contest during All-Star Weekend, the super-shooting big man said he hasn't been contacted — and didn't sound interested in being named when selections are announced next Thursday.

"I don't think I deserve it," said Okur, who has countless critical late-game treys this season, but who at 38 percent is only tied for 50th among NBA 3-point percentage leaders. "If you look at some other guys, they've shot 40-some percent, almost 50 percent."

HELP WANTED: If the Jazz sign someone to a 10-day contract early next week, as they're seriously contemplating, coach Jerry Sloan would be all for it.

"I've always felt like guys that have been here are a little more comfortable with what we're trying to do than guys that are just coming in," said Sloan, who even with Boozer out has a full active roster of 12 healthy players. "But some guy might come in and show you, with some work and some learning and understanding, that they maybe can be better. And that's what we have to do if the opportunity presents itself."

The Jazz wouldn't have to waive anyone to make an addition, since they have two vacant inactive-list spots.

O'Connor on Friday said the Jazz are in "wait-and-see" mode, though earlier in the week he said, "I would expect that we do something, in some way, shape or form."

As for whether whoever was signed could crack the active roster, and who would sit if so, Sloan was noncommittal.

"We'd have to see how they play and how they go through practice," he said, "before we went to that point."

One possibility remains former Fresno State big man Hiram Fuller, though Jazz brass were disappointed to learn the ex-Atlanta Hawk supposedly hasn't been playing since Utah made him its final training-camp cut late last October.

E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com