The saga of Raja Bell’s inauspicious second stint with the Jazz continues, but it won’t continue with him around the rest of the team. The Jazz partially answered one of the strangest questions of the off-season: What to do with the charred remains of the bridges burned by Bell last season?
The team released the following statement Friday afternoon:
SALT LAKE CITY (September 28, 2012) – Utah Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey issued the following statement today regarding guard Raja Bell:
“I have spoken with Raja and his representative, Herb Rudoy, and we have mutually agreed that although Raja remains under contract, it is in the best interest of all parties that he not re-join the team next week when the Jazz begins training camp. We will now move forward focusing on Jazz basketball and our preparation for the upcoming season. We will have no further comment on this matter.”
The only way this scenario of makes sense is if the Jazz have a good idea of who will occupy roster spots next season and they can bide their time long enough to completely freeze out any opportunities Bell might otherwise have to join another team anytime soon.
Besides making his feelings unmistakably clear on his way out of locker clean out at the end of last season, Bell has made statements at stops all around the league listing all the top teams as potential destinations for his specific set of skills.
Interestingly, his pitch to the league has changed quite a bit since his bold exit. While he clearly considered himself an elite player in the league (and seemed to think the feeling was mutual), his statements to a radio station in Miami showed he was willing to market himself as simply an experienced veteran willing to fit in in a limited role. But with a contender, of course.
The two-time member of NBA All-Defensive teams said he appreciates any role would be limited.
“At my age and what I’ve got in my tank, I feel like a limited role is best,” he said. “I don’t really like playing 35 minutes a night anymore.”
Shane Battier currently stands as the Heat’s lone perimeter defensive specialist, although LeBron James often takes the critical perimeter defensive assignment in crucial situations.
“As much as I control what I do, I don’t,” Bell said. “The Jazz hold my rights, they are the owners of the contract. And so if they tell me I’m coming back to camp, then I have to go back to camp.
So apparently Bell returned to Utah on Monday for his physical, hoping to get word one way or another on his status with the team and to work out details of his departure. The Jazz appear to have reciprocated with the NBA equivalent of Time Out.