Where are the Former Jazzmen this Season?

October 23rd, 2017 | by David J Smith

All-Star Paul Millsap takes his all-around game to the Denver Nuggets. (David Zalubowski, The Associated Press)

Now that the NBA regular season is well underway and the rosters are set, it is time for Salt City Hoops’ annual look at where former Utah Jazz players have landed. Here is a quick run-down on each player and what could possibly be expected of him during the 2017-18 season.

Gordon Hayward, Boston Celtics: What more can be said about his devastating injury? Just five minutes into his Boston career, the former Utah All-Star may have seen his season disappear. He has since had surgery, but the long road of hard work and physical therapy is just beginning. Here’s hoping the best for his recovery process. The trio of Hayward, Kyrie Irving and Al Horford would certainly pose a threat to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ supremacy in the Eastern Conference. Hayward’s horrific setback puts that in serious jeopardy.

Trevor Booker, Brooklyn Nets: Booker, always a Jazz fan favorite, continues to be a solid contributor on and off the court. He provides veteran leadership, rebounding prowess and gritty toughness to a Nets team that could surprise some. His energy is certainly contagious. With Jeremy Lin out of commission the season, Booker may be asked to help a bit more on the scoring front.

DeMarre Carroll, Brooklyn Nets: Ever since his stellar stint with the Atlanta Hawks, Carroll’s NBA journey has been marked by a production not equal to his rich contract, injury set backs and now a trade from Toronto to Brooklyn. The hope is a change of scenery will be a boost to Carroll, who is an upstanding locker room presence who still exhibits his trademark hustle on the floor.

Marvin Williams, Charlotte Hornets: Williams has settled into a nice role as a stretch four capable of some games of stellar perimeter shooting. While he may never live up to his high draft status, Williams has proven to be a capable and heady role player who can help any team. He does a lot of the little things. The Hornets will look to him to help fill some of the gap created by Nicolas Batum’s absence.

Kyle Korver, Cleveland Cavaliers: Korver was excellent for Cleveland in the regular season, but his postseason performance was marked by inconsistent shooting and less than favorable defensive matchups. Korver was still a smart re-signing for the Cavs, as his 3-point game may be vital given the less than accurate marksmanship of some of the team’s offseason backcourt additions.

Devin Harris, Dallas Mavericks: Harris is another player who has found a niche as a nice reserve guard for Dallas. While he does not wow many, he is a crafty scorer and playmaker who does not make too many mistakes. He may see a slight decrease in playing time, given some of the promising young guards the Mavs have brought aboard. Condolences to Harris, whose brother was tragically killed in a car accident this week.

Wes Matthews, Dallas Mavericks: Matthews’ time in Big D has not had the luster of his tenure in Portland, where he was stellar. He has battled back from some horrible injuries, but has not been able to get back where he was when Dallas inked him. His shooting, in particular, has been disappointing. Even so, Matthews is a solid defender and 3-point threat who is not afraid to let it fly.

Jeff Withey, Dallas Mavericks: A late offseason add, Withey managed to capture one of the final spots on the Mavs roster. In his two years with the Jazz, when called upon, the big man had his moments. Withey provides elite shot blocking to shore up the bench, when needed.

Richard Jefferson, Denver Nuggets: After the dust settled last week for Jefferson, the 37-year old forward finds himself in the Mile High City. He contributed toward Cleveland’s Finals and championship squad and will be looked upon as a mentor for the young Denver corps. The team wanted him badly enough to eat Jameer Nelson’s $4.7 million contract to bring him on. Jefferson is the latest in a somewhat bizarre glut of Nuggets forwards.

Trey Lyles, Denver Nuggets: After a promising rookie campaign, Lyles was a dismal disappointment his sophomore season for the Jazz. His shooting was errant and his defense non-existent. His decision-making was poor, as he seemed to force things whenever he was on the court. However, Lyles still has the skill set to be a rotation player in the NBA. With so many capable front court teammates, it will be interesting to see how Lyles performs in Denver. So far, it appears he is on the outside of the rotation.

Paul Millsap, Denver Nuggets: Millsap’s move was perhaps the least heralded, but most impactful summer moves. He is simply the epitome of consistency and brings his all-around game to a Denver team on the rise. His pairing with Nikola Jokic will be a fun storyline to follow. He will undoubtedly help make one of the NBA’s top offenses even better. Millsap will be quite good, but will probably not receive an All-Star nod in the West.

Al Jefferson, Indiana Pacers: The Indiana Pacers are a vastly different squad after an eventful offseason. They have some hungry young players who may help pick up the tempo. As a result, Jefferson remains a slightly curious fit for Indiana, but he can be solid in relief of potential All-Star center Myles Turner.

Ian Clark, New Orleans Pelicans: After being a bit player for the Jazz, Clark proved to be a very good energy guy for the champion Golden State Warriors. How much of that was due to the Warriors system and how much was his improvement? Probably a combination of both, but his new environs will help answer that question. The Pelicans certainly need a dose of outside shooting.

Enes Kanter, New York Knicks: While a very productive offensive player for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kanter’s playing time actually dropped significantly since the Jazz moved him. That should change with his recent trade to the Big Apple. The Knicks will be one of the bottom dwellers in the NBA and someone will be needed to put points on the board. Enter Kanter. Expect him to put up some nice stat lines…and for the Knick to still lose a lot.

Shelvin Mack, Orlando Magic: Mack was perhaps unfairly maligned by some Jazz fans. While his judgement with the ball was sometimes questionable, he was a solid back-up who had his moments. And Utah got him for a song. He could play a solid role for the Orlando Magic, a team who seems to have little direction. This is evidenced by a bizarrely assembled roster.

Jack Cooley, Sacramento Kings: It is terrific that the hard-working, hustling Cooley is back on an NBA roster as one of Sacramento’s two-way players. He may get a chance here and there to contribute.

George Hill, Sacramento Kings: Hill had his best NBA season for Utah last year, but also missed 40% of his potential outings. That latter fact – coupled with his large paycheck for his age –  had to be a factor in Utah opting for a new look with Ricky Rubio. Sacramento is still stuck in the mud. They have some intriguing youngsters, which makes their acquisitions of veterans Hill, Vince Carter and Zach Randolph perplexing, Hill should get ample offensive looks, while tutoring the Kings guards.

Kosta Koufos, Sacramento Kings: Koufos keeps plugging along. He probably plays more in Sacramento than he would in most places, but he remains a serviceable big man who can help clear the glass.

C.J. Miles, Toronto Raptors: Miles will be a welcome addition to the Raptors fold. He has grown into a very good 3-point shooter who can play multiple positions. Toronto will give him chances to show his game, perhaps more so than any of his previous teams. Believe it or not, even as he enters his 13th season, Miles is still just 30.

A number of other former Jazzmen were late preseason cuts: Jeremy Evans, Kris Humphries, Brandon Rush, Chris Johnson and Elijah Millsap. Trey Burke’s signed with and was waived by New York so that the Westchester Knicks could obtain his G-League rights, a further step from NBA relevance for the former Jazz guard. And last but not least, Deron Williams finds himself unemployed NBA-wise. He was solid for Dallas, but was lackluster with the Cavs. His Finals performance did not do him any favors

David J Smith

David J Smith

Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News and has written for the Utah Jazz website and Hoopsworld.com (now Basketball Insiders). He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. He and his incredibly patient wife, Elizabeth, have some amazing children--four girls and two boys. Voted "Most Likely to Replace Jerry Sloan" in high school.
David J Smith
David J Smith

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