With Malcolm Thomas’s recent signing (and check out Dakota’s fantastic breakdown of his game here), I’ve been thinking about other pickups over the last few years—whether D-League call ups or picking up off waivers or after clearing waivers—and how they’ve worked out for the Jazz. I think we have a couple in mind that really worked out, a couple that didn’t, with one still to be determined. Considering the low-risk, medium-reward type of situations these are, that’s a pretty successful clip.
I’ll break it down by starting with the first memorable Jazz/D-League call up: Sundiata Gaines.
On January 5, 2010, the Jazz signed Gaines after he’d played 14 games in the D-League. Five games and one practice later, Sundiata played most of the fourth quarter in a game against the LeBron-led Cavs after Deron Williams exited with a wrist injury. In a quarter that tallied 78 points between the two teams—and 20 from King James himself—none were bigger than the buzzer-beating three that Gaines hit to give the Jazz the one-point win on national TV. What an introduction to an NBA career! It was such a memorable moment and such a great story. Seeing him climb up on the scorer’s table and pump up the crowd was just awesome. I realize I’m a woman and will readily admit I’m a bit of a crier (don’t even get me near my “Marley and Me” blu-ray), but who wouldn’t tear up when watching the 1-minute feature on Gaines getting his call-up by the Jazz and calling his mom to tell her the fantastic news?
And, if you’re one who cries after a memorable win, there’s this one, too:
Okay, pass the tissues, and on to the next signing.
DeMarre saw his minutes usually hovering around the 5 mpg mark his first several years in the league before being waived by the Denver Nuggets on February 4, 2012. The Jazz picked him up after he cleared waivers on February 8, 2012. It took until the end of March 2012 before he was able to get into games consistently, but after that, he was averaging 16 mpg and hit double figures in three games before the end of the season. His hustle, energy, and gritty play made him an early fan favorite and he was affectionately called the Junkyard Dog. His eclectic fashion style off the court could either make you shake your head or give him props.
In his first full season with the Jazz in the 2012-2013 season, Carroll had 15 games scoring in double digits, averaging 6.0 ppg and 2.8 rpg in nearly 17 mpg. In the offseason, the Jazz and Carroll parted ways and he signed with the Atlanta Hawks, and he has started for their 2013-2014 team (that has also featured former Jazzmen Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap[ref]More tears.[/ref]) where DMC—not to be confused with DeMarcus Cousins—has been averaging nearly 10 ppg and 5.6 rpg in over 30 mpg as a starter. That was one very successful pickup by Kevin O’Connor.
On April 10, 2012, Ahearn signed a 10-day contract with Jazz and 10 days later, signed for the rest of the season. He only made it into four games, playing a total of 30 minutes, and scoring 10 points. Of the 14 field goals he attempted, 9 of them were from behind the three-point line, and he hit two of them. His short stint with the Jazz didn’t prove too fruitful, and he’s currently playing in the Ukranian SuperLeague.
McNeal signed a 10-day contract with the Jazz on March 27, 2013. On April 6, 2013, signed for the rest of the season though, unfortunately, he never made it into a game. He last played for the Zhejian Golden Bulls before being released in December 2013.
After the Jamaal Tinsley experiment didn’t work, he was released and Diante Garrett was signed on November 13, 2013. That night, without any practice time, Garrett was solid in a win against New Orleans in just under 22 minutes: 7 points, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 rebound, and 3-5 from the field. Jazz fans rejoiced! It was refreshing to see a point guard who could both score and pass! And then, as some joked on Twitter, Garrett “learned the offense” and his play came back to earth the next couple games. Overall, Garrett’s been a solid backup when given a good chunk of time: he’s had 7 games of 4+ assists even though he rarely gets more than 20 minutes in a game. Considering our assists numbers from the point guard position this year, that’s been very, very good.
Will Malcolm Thomas fit in more of the DeMarre/Sundiata category (and possibly Diante Garrett), or will he get a minimal amount of playing time and find himself playing overseas next season? Given his length, athleticism, and shot-blocking ability, plus an ability to stretch the floor a bit with his new-found three-point shooting, I’m hoping he gets a good opportunity to show how he can help the team.