This afternoon, the Jazz officially inked point guard John Lucas III to a contract to be the next Jazz PG. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Lucas signed a 2 year, $3.2 million dollar contract, though it is unknown if the deal is guaranteed in the 2nd year.
Lucas flew into Salt Lake to sign the contract and meet with the media Monday afternoon. Lucas is kind of a fun story: after going undrafted out of college (playing two years at Baylor and two years at Oklahoma State), Houston signed him to a contract just after 2 months in the D-League where he scored nearly 17 PPG on over 50% shooting. Lucas played with Houston for a year and a half before being waived just days before the 2007-08 season began.
In his meeting with the press today, he indicated that his relationship with Dennis Lindsey was key in bringing him initially to Houston over 7 years ago as well as to the Jazz this summer: “I’ve known him for years, maybe since I was 8. To me, the league is like a fraternity, a brotherhood. You tend to circle around to someone you’ve met… who’s now a VP or GM of an organization.”
After being waived by Houston, Lucas has been around the basketball world. He played in Italy, Oklahoma City (where he made the bench but played in no games), Broomfield, Colorado, Spain, and China, before being signed late in 2010 by the Chicago Bulls. There, he played as Derrick Rose’s 3rd string point guard for a season and a half, impressing by scoring well and playing good defense as part of Chicago’s “Bench Mob”.
Also part of that Chicago team were Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Brewer, former Jazzmen. Lucas mentioned Brewer specifically as a “really good friend of mine”, and when Lucas asked Brewer about the Jazz organization, he “had nothing but great things to say about it, like a family where everyone has each other’s back”.
While on the topic of Jazz connections, Lucas mentioned his friendship with Brandon Rush. Lucas said his uncle is the pastor at Mount Zion Christian Academy, the high school Rush attended, and has kept tabs on Rush’s career since.
Finally, last season, he was signed by Toronto, where he played 3rd string, then primary backup for the Raptors after the Jose Calderon trade.
On the Jazz, Lucas talked about adding focus to the 21st ranked NBA defense last season. “On offense, we have so many weapons. I used to hate guarding Utah because they have so many different options that come with the offense that we have a lot of weapons there. But if we can’t stop anyone on the defensive end, then those weapons are really nothing to us.”