The Utah Jazz announced that they will host a mini-camp for free agent players this week, June 10-12. If you remember, the team did the same thing last season; it seems like it’s something that’s going to be a consistent Dennis Lindsey move.
It doesn’t seem that newsworthy, but there are a number of positives behind holding such a camp. First, one never knows if there is a diamond in the rough just waiting to be found. Whether it is for summer league, training camp, or an emergency 10-day contract guy, having this number of free agents work out for the team breeds some familiarity. Similarly, you might find someone who fits the mold of a mini reclamation project–someone who may not have been given a chance or who has not taken advantage of the chances he’s had thus far. Lastly, perhaps an invite to a player is a favor to an agent–something agents will remember when their other clients potentially deal with the franchise down the line.
There are a number of interesting names among these 27 invitees. Here are a few that stand out a bit:
Darius Morris, guard, 6’5″, 195 lbs: Morris is one of the more recognizable names on the list. A tall point guard with size, Morris is a three-year veteran who was drafted in the second round by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2011. Morris spent two seasons with LA, having an okay second season (4.0 PPG, 1.6 APG in 14.2 MPG). He wore three different uniforms last year–having a cup of coffee in Philadelphia (6.9 PPG, 2.6 APG), Memphis and with the Clippers. He was Trey Burke’s point guard predecessor at Michigan.
Orlando Johnson, guard, 6’5″, 220 lbs: Johnson was a 2012 second-round pick (36th pick) fo rthe Sacramento Kings, who was subsequently traded to the Indiana Pacers. He had a decent rookie campaign (4.0 PPG, 2.2 RPG in 12.1 MPG). Due to increased Pacers depth, his playing time dipped and he was waived when Indiana traded for Evan Turner and LaVoy Allen. The Kings picked him up for a brief stint, too. Johnson appeared in 12 postseason games with Indiana.
Tyler Honeycutt, forward, 6’8″, 198 lbs: Also a second-round pick by Sacramento (in 2011), Honeycutt has two years of NBA experience–with the Kings and the Houston Rockets. He most recently played in Israel. He is still just 23 years old.
Jack Cooley, forward, 6’9″, 246 lbs: This bruiser out of Notre Dame worked out a few times for the Jazz last year–once pre-draft and once during the summer. He was rumored to have received partially guaranteed offers from multiple NBA teams, but turned them down for for a deal in Turkey. Several teams have expressed interest in him this go-around.
James Nunnally, swingman, 6’7″, 205 lbs: Nunnally also worked out for Utah last year and spent time with both the Sixers and the Hawks last season, averaging 3.4 PPG and 1.5 RPG in 12.7 MPG. He is a long, athletic player who might be worth keeping an eye on.
Tim Ohlbrecht, center, 6’11″, 255 lbs: This German big man went undrafted in 2010, but managed to earn a contract with the Houston Rockets in 2013. He appeared in three games with Houston and was picked up by Philadelphia, before they waived in in last year’s training camp.
Carlon Brown, guard 6’5″, 215 lbs: Brown spent three seasons at the University of Utah before finishing up at Colorado. He has spent the last two years in the D-League and in Israel.
Jason Washburn, center, 6’10″, 242 lbs: Another familiar face from his time with the University of Utah. Washburn had a pre-draft workout last season and then spent the season in Belgium.
Nick Covington, guard, 6’2″: The former Weber State guard was invited to the Jazz’s training camp, but was a late scratch in favor of Lester Hudson.
Ahmad Nivins, forward, 6’9″, 242 lbs: He was a 2009 second-round pick by the Dallas Mavericks, but he’s not yet made an NBA roster.
Several others such as Dee Bost, John Shurna, Chris Kramer, Trent Lockett, Mitchell Watt and Courtney Fells have played in NBA summer leagues or have attended NBA training camps.
The roster may not do much for people, but these are names that could fill out rosters for summer league or with the Jazz’s new D-League affiliate, the Idaho Stampede. Perhaps there is a Wesley Matthews in this group: a player who will find himself in training camp, battling for a roster position.
If anything, it is exciting to see the Jazz be so thorough and exhaustive in their efforts. They are doing their due diligence and it will pay off down the line.