The Utah Jazz always carry three point guards on the roster. That is one of the constant constants with this organization, going back to the dawn of time. With the team guaranteeing combo guard Ian Clark’s deal for the 2014-2015 season, the team now has 13 players under contract. Even with that move, it sounds like they hope to still add a third point guard. Now, if Clark can show he can fill that role, this becomes a moot point. But the jury’s still out on that front.
What point guards are out there? Here’s a quick rundown of some remaining free agents and guys who may be available in the trade market. As one can imagine, the names are anything but glamorous. Then again, neither is this role.
Pablo Prigioni: According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, Prigioni may be available. The New York Knicks have changed things up at the point guard position, adding Jose Calderon and Shane Larkin. Prigioni is a pure point guard, as evidenced by his assists to field goal attempt ratio (228 dimes to 191 FGAs). Ditto for his 25.6 AST% and 9.3 USG%. He is an excellent marksman when he does shoot, posting .642 TS% and .631 eFG%. He is a very good 3-point shooter who rarely gets to the free throw line. Prigioni is owed $1.66M this year and is partially guaranteed in 2015-2016 for $290,000. He might be obtainable for very little– a second-round pick1. At last check, Utah has an abundance of those coming up. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that Prigioni is 37-years old, given that he’s only played two seasons in the NBA. That would make him almost the same age as Trey Burke and Dante Exum combined.
Toure’ Murry: Murry was rumored to be someone Utah is considering. His body of work is meager, as he played just 7.3 MPG in 51 games for the New York Knicks as a rookie. He only attempted 12 3-pointers in 373 total minutes. This is where the Jazz scouting department probably plays a factor. Perhaps Murry impressed them over the past few years.
Ramon Sessions: Sessions had a nice season (12.3 PPG and 4.1 APG, including 15.8 and 4.8 with the Milwaukee Bucks) and it’s frankly a surprise that he has not been picked up yet. Given his productivity and age (hard to believe he is just 27 years old), he most likely would be looking for more minutes than he could get in Utah.
Jordan Crawford: Another unlikely Jazz target. Crawford has the reputation of a gunner–he’s never been shy at hoisting shots up. He did show he can dish the ball, registering 5.7 APG for the Boston Celtics in Rajon Rondo’s absence. Given his youth and the ability he’s shown to put points on the board, he’ll be looking for a team in need of bench production.
Toney Douglas: Douglas quickly became a journeyman, toiled for five different franchises the past three seasons (part of three trades during that span). He started his career with the reputation of a shooter, but he has been wildly inconsistent from long distance. Douglas hit just 27.9 percent with the Miami Heat, which is not good given the open looks he got there. He is decent defensively and as a playmaker.
Tyshawn Taylor: Taylor received spot minutes behind Deron Williams in Brooklyn the past two seasons. He is a solid facilitator (21.4% AST%), but is horrendous offensively otherwise (.427 TS% and .357 eFG%).
Chauncey Billups: The long-time veteran and former Finals MVP is winding down what could be a Hall of Fame career. He showed he did not have much in the tank last season in his return to Detroit. Sadly, he has only played 61 total games the past three years. At 37, if he decides to try for one more season, it will likely be with a contender.
Earl Watson: Watson too is finishing up a solid career and was a fan favorite2 during his three seasons with the Jazz. He inked with the Portland Trailblazers to play the mentor role and only appeared in 24 games. As a player who is familiar with the environs, is a consummate pro and would not chafe in this role, Watson might be a good fit.
Ronnie Price: Yet another popular former Jazz guard. Price also went the “veteran presence in the locker room” route, playing just 31 games. He was never a shooter (career 37.8 percent from the field and just 29.2 percent beyond the arc). Price does work hard defensively and exudes hustle 3, but may have lost a bit of his quickness since his time in Utah.
Leandro Barbosa: A midyear signing by the Phoenix Suns, Barbosa showed he still had some game (7.5 PPG in 18.4 MPG). He still possesses some speed, but as a combo guard, has never been a true play maker.
The Jazz could also bring in some undrafted rookies to compete in training camp, as David Locke has mentioned. There may be others who have been playing overseas or in the D-League that have Utah’s eye4.
While NBA and Jazz fans certainly find themselves mired in the doldrums of the NBA offseason, this is something to watch over the next several weeks.