It’s always interesting for fans to keep an eye on those who once donned the Utah Jazz uniform. After another busy offseason around the league, here is the full list of where former Jazzmen are playing, and some thoughts about their upcoming seasons.
DeMarre Carroll, Atlanta Hawks: Last season, the gritty forward enjoyed a career-year. After toiling for four teams in four seasons, Carroll may have found a home with the Hawks. He posted 11.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.8 APG and 1.5 SPG, complete with some great defense (2.6 DWS) and shooting (.575 TS%). Carroll still just had a 13.9 PER and is probably better suited playing just a touch less than the 32.1 MPG he played. He has been effusive in his praise of new Jazz coach Quin Snyder, citing his efforts as a big catalyst for his improvement.1
Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks: The sharp-shooting forward had another solid season, putting up 12.0 PPG, 2.9 APG and 4.0 RPG for the Hawks. Korver’s stellar marksmanship (47.5 percent field goals, 47.2 percent on 3s and 92.6 percent from the line) paced the NBA with a .653 True Shooting Percentage. Add in a 5.9 WS, and you can see Korver’s importance for Atlanta. Look for him to do much of the same this year. While he fell short of making the USA FIBA team, Korver’s value has managed to increase as his career progresses.
Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks: When Al Horford went down with a season-ending injury, Paul Millsap stepped up in a major way. Sporting a nice 3-point touch, his 17.9 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.7 SPG and 1.1 BPG were enough to earn his first-ever All-Star appearance. Many of his advanced numbers mirrored his remarkable consistency during his Jazz days, so it was refreshing to see him earn that accolade at last. Even so, there still is a feeling that Millsap is underrated. He’s even been mentioned on some “Most Likely to be Traded” lists out there, perhaps due in part to his expiring $9.5 million contract. If Atlanta is smart, they will hold on to the do-it-all forward.
Andrei Kirilenko, Brooklyn Nets: Injuries plagued AK-47, but he still added value to a Brooklyn bench that struggled at times. Kirilenko has definitely lost some of the zip that made his one of the NBA’s most unique players for years. He averaged just 5.0 PPG last year, but showed he can still facilitate. At just $3.3 million, he is a solid guy for the Nets to have.
Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets: It certainly was a down year for Deron Williams. Across the board, his numbers were his worst since his first season. He’s dropped from 21.0 PPG to 18.9 to 14.3 the past three years (8.7 APG to 7.7 to 6.1). Given the additions of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Kirilenko, optimism was high that DWill would be the quarterback of a veteran-laden team that would compete with the Heat and Pacers. Instead, injuries really hurt his game. At just 29, Williams can bounce back. Given the Brooklyn market, and the fact that he’s in line to earn $63 million over the next three years, the pressure is on. By many accounts, new coach Lionel Hollins plans to funnel most of the offense through Williams.
Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats: Like Millsap, it was wonderful to see Jefferson earn the praise that he’s deserved for many years. He was the key to the Bobcats’ resurgence, as he provided a bonafide scoring threat inside– 21.8 PPG and 10.8 RPG. Head coach Steve Clifford used him well on both ends, helping him be a big part of their defensive identity. Evidence: Big Al’s career-high 4.7 DWS. Strangely enough, he did not make the All-Star team, but garnered All-NBA Third Team honors. With an excellent offseason, Charlotte is poised to make another jump in the Eastern Conference with Jefferson as the focal point. While his three-year, $41 million contract opened some eyes, most view it as a bargain for his production and leadership.
Marvin Williams, Charlotte Bobcats: Always a terrific locker room presence and solid on-court performer, it was difficult to see Marvin Williams depart Salt Lake City. He did everything that was asked of him, even developing into a good stretch four for the Jazz. Williams inked a two-year, $14 million deal with Charlotte to reunite with Jefferson and return to his collegiate home. With his combination of stout defense, improved rebounding and outside shooting, he will add a lot to the Bobcats. He will compete for a starting position.
John Lucas III, Cleveland Cavaliers: Lucas struggled with Utah. With Trey Burke’s early injury, he was thrust into the ill-suited role of starter and he never really recovered from that poor start. Diante Garrett quickly usurped him in the Jazz’s pecking order. Whether or not he makes the Cleveland roster remains to be determined. It sounds like he will be given the chance, with only Kyrie Irving and Matthew Dellavedova being the only other point guards in the fold.2
Erik Murphy, Cleveland Cavaliers: Murphy, too, is facing an uphill battle. The Cavs seemingly dealt for Lucas, Murphy and Malcolm Thomas to use as trade filler in any Kevin Love deal, then ended up holding on to all three of them. Along the way, Murphy’s contract was guaranteed.
Malcolm Thomas, Cleveland Cavaliers: By some accounts, Thomas seems like a player Cleveland is genuinely interested in keeping and using. With his blend of athleticism and length, he seems like a low-cost, potentially decent-reward guy to have at the end of the bench for the Cavs.
Devin Harris, Dallas Mavericks: Harris returned to his original NBA team and while injuries affected his season, he seemed to thrive in the third guard role for Dallas. Harris chipped in 7.9 PPG and 4.5 APG off the pine, with his 31.0 AST% being his best since his New Jersey days. He re-signed for a modest contract and will be a valuable cog for a Mavericks team that could surprise, thanks to a very good offseason that also saw Tyson Chandler, Chandler Parsons and Jameer Nelson join its ranks.
Richard Jefferson, Dallas Mavericks: Like Marvin Williams, Jefferson too put forth a resurgent effort. After languishing in Golden State, he started for Utah and showed that he still had some gas in the tank. With Vince Carter’s departure to Memphis, Jefferson could fill the role of a shooter off the bench. Signing him for the veteran’s minimum was another solid move for Dallas.
Randy Foye, Denver Nuggets: Foye had a nice lone season in Utah and did even better in his first with Denver. With other guards being hit with injuries, the Nuggets relied on him more than expected. With 13.2 PPG and 3.5 APG, Foye did his best to help Denver remain in the playoff picture for a good part of the season. With Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson coming back and Arron Afflalo’s return to the Mile High City, Foye may be back in a super sub role – one in which he does quite well.
Brandon Rush, Golden State Warriors: One year after being traded to Utah by the Warriors, Rush made his way back to the Bay Area. Given his lackluster play and poor body language in Utah, his heart was probably always in Golden State. If he can recapture some of his former self, he can be a solid perimeter addition to the Warriors bench.
C.J.Miles, Indiana Pacers: Despite playing nine NBA seasons, Miles is shockingly just 27. He had his best 3-point shooting seasons with the Cavaliers, which is the likely reason Indiana added him. He was to be a much-needed shooter for the Pacers, but with Paul George’s devastating injury, Miles may be asked to assume a bigger role – perhaps even starting. It will be interesting to see if Miles can seize this opportunity.
Carlos Boozer, Los Angeles Lakers: Carlos Boozer’s 2013-14 season was quite forgettable. His 13.7 PPG and 8.3 RPG3 were the lowest of his career since his rookie campaign. His 14.4 PER was by far the worst of his 12 seasons. The biggest stat for the Chicago Bulls was the $13.5 million he was set to make during the upcoming season. With the continued improvement of Taj Gibson and the additions of Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic, Boozer was an amnesty casualty.
Enter the Los Angeles Lakers. It is hard to determine what this franchise’s direction is. They added a slew of players to join the returning-from-injury Kobe Bryant, seemingly in hopes to provide enough firepower to compete in the Western Conference. Boozer will be looked on for some much-needed scoring. That said, with the glut of power forwards on the roster4, it remains to be seen how much playing time the two-time All-Star will see. Especially when his age (32) and defense are taken into consideration.
Kosta Koufos, Memphis Grizzlies: After several underrated good years for Denver, Koufos brought some solid play to the Memphis front court. With 6.4 PPG and 5.2 RPG in 16.9 MPG, he provided depth behind Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. His shooting took a dip last season, but a 16.5 PER for your back-up is still very good; ditto the 3.5 WS and 18.4 TRB% (22.7 DRB%). He will continue to provide quality minutes and can step in to start, when needed.
Kyrylo Fesenko, Minnesota Timberwolves: Big Fes was a fan favorite during his four seasons5. He had his moments and showed defensive potential. His immaturity, though, was an issue. After appearing in just three NBA the past three seasons, Fesenko is embarking on a comeback with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He impressed enough in summer league to earn a training camp invite. Given the rebuilding roster, the 7’1″, 288 lb gargantuan center might have a chance to stick.
Othyus Jeffers, Minnesota Timberwolves: The energetic Jeffers has made the rounds since finishing up the 2010 season with Utah. He hooked on with Minnesota right before the end of the last year and is still listed on its roster.6
Mo Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves: After seeing success in a back-up role with the surprising Portland Trailblazers, Williams opted out of his contract and found the market wasn’t too kind. When things settled down, he inked a deal with Minnesota. It was a perplexing signing, with Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine and, until they ship him out, J.J. Barea in tow. Given the dramatically changed roster, perhaps Mo will be looked on for veteran leadership.
Diante Garrett, Portland Trailblazers: After being a pleasant addition to the Jazz last year, he was unfortunately traded to Toronto in the Steve Novak transaction. After being waived by the Raptors, he signed a non-guaranteed contract with Portland in hopes of sticking. With his size and improved outside shooting, he would be a nice player to have on the bench, even with the guards the Blazers already have.
Wesley Matthews, Portland Trailblazers: After three solid seasons, Matthews made a little jump last season, enjoying his best year as a professional. His first half of the season was especially torrid, as he was shooting lights out. There was even talk of him making the Western Conference All-Star team. He finished the year averaging 16.4 PPG, while making 2.5 3s per outing. He leapt from 4.7 WS to 8.2 last year (going from 3.6 to 6.3 on OWS). Working with Damian Lillard, Matthews is part of a very potent back court that is among the best in the league.
Kris Humphries, Washington Wizards: While the Boston Celtics had a rebuilding year, Humphries had a quietly solid bounce-back season. He chipped in 8.4 PPG and 5.9 RPG in just 19.9 MPG, along with .552 TS% and 4.1 WS. Washington is a team on the rise and Humphries adds another capable back-up to their front court.
There are several others who are still out there without NBA contracts: Ronnie Brewer, Earl Watson, Ronnie Price, Eric Maynor, Andris Biedrins, Jamaal Tinsley, Mike Harris, Josh Howard7, Lou Amundson. With the exception of Howard, all spent time on NBA rosters last season.
And just for fun, here are some former Jazzmen in the NBA’s coaching ranks:
Jarron Collins, Los Angeles Clippers: Collins will get his first chance as an NBA assistant coach. Always respected for his attitude and demeanor, it is nice to see him getting this opportunity with Doc Rivers and one of the league’s contending teams.
Howard Eisley, Los Angeles Clippers: Eisley continues in his role with the Clippers. He seems to be a valued part of the staff; no surprise, given his basketball knowledge.
Derek Fisher, New York Knicks: After 18 seasons and five championships, Derek Fisher was not unemployed for long. Phil Jackson plucked him up quickly, signing him to a five-year, $25 million pact. That’s a lot of scratch for someone who’s never coached at any level (though the same applies to Golden State’s deal with Steve Kerr). It will be very interesting to see what Fisher does in the Big Apple and the inherent scrutiny that exists therein. The Knicks roster does not do much to inspire.
Jacque Vaughn, Orlando Magic: Entering his third season in charge, the expectations are again low for Vaughn’s team to produce Ws. What they are looking for is continued player and talent development. That sounds familiar.
Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix Suns: Hornacek and his upstart Suns were among the NBA’s best stories last season. In his first year as head coach, Hornacek defied the most optimistic of expectations out there by producing an entertaining brand of basketball that got them within a breath of the postseason. Almost to a man, each Phoenix player had career-years–from established veterans like Goran Dragic and Channing Frye, to guys who were seemingly discarded in Miles Plumlee, P.J. Tucker and Gerald Green. The bar was set high. Can Hornacek build upon the momentum there in Phoenix? It would be tough to bet against him.
Tyrone Corbin, Sacramento Kings: Much has been said about Tyrone Corbin’s tenure as Utah’s head coach. There were ups and downs. Corbin gave his all and dedicated the past 12 years to the franchise. While he had struggles at the helm, he was largely considered one of the NBA’s best assistant coaches prior to replacing Jerry Sloan. Corbin should succeed in Sacramento as the lead assistant there, bringing professionalism to a talented Kings roster.