It is always nice to check in on former Utah Jazzmen. Many of them have been headliners this offseason, with several earning very handsome pay days. In fact, the trio of Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll and Wesley Matthews combined to sign for $189 million this summer. Not too shabby.
Without further ado, here is a quick rundown some former Jazz players and where they will be employed for the 2015-2016 season.
THOSE WHO CHANGED LOCALES
Mo Williams, Cleveland Cavs: After a mid-season trade that drew little attention, Williams enjoyed a resurgence with the Charlotte Hornets. While he did not shoot too well, he provided some much-needed offense for Charlotte. Williams tallied 17.2 PPG, 6.0 APG and 2.8 RPG, which was certainly not expected. He will assume a scoring role off Cleveland’s bench, with the ability to both spell and play with Kyrie Irving. Williams constitutes the main addition to a NBA Finals team.
Richard Jefferson, Cleveland Cavs: At age 34, Jefferson keeps on playing. For the second consecutive campaign, he managed to best 40 percent from downtown. He will be looked to play some backup wing minutes for the Cavs, perhaps assuming some of the PT Mike Miller enjoyed. Jefferson still unleashes the occasional burst of athleticism.
Deron Williams, Dallas Mavericks: Few players needed a change of scenery more than the former Jazz All-Star. The last two seasons have been largely forgettable, with Williams posting some of the lowest numbers of his career. Moreover, he drew the ire of fans and was maligned by former teammates. Things simply have not panned out since Williams was shipped out of Utah, culminating with last month’s buyout. The Mavericks pursued him in the past, so this makes sense. Perhaps Williams, too, can enjoy an rejuvenation as he returns to the Western Conference.
Wesley Matthews, Dallas Mavericks: After a surprising season as an undrafted rookie for the Jazz, Matthews has evolved into a truly impactful player on both ends of the court. In Portland, he became one of the NBA’s best long distance shooters, while still demonstrating defensive prowess. He is coming of a torn Achilles tendon, which makes his max contract a bit surprising. Should he bounce back fully, his addition could be a big one as the Mavs look to life post-Dirk Nowitzki.
Ronnie Price, Phoenix Suns: The Energizer Bunny keeps on playing, inking his fifth straight one-year contract. Playing for the struggling Los Angeles Lakers last year, Price actually posted career-highs with 5.1 PPG, 3.8 APG and 1.6 SPG in 22.8 MPG. Not bad in one’s 10th season. Even so, he looks to be more of a locker room presence for Jeff Hornacek. Who could have guessed the Utah Valley University product would play over a decade in the NBA?
Kosta Koufos, Sacramento Kings: Koufos has quietly become one of the league’s best back-up centers. After a few seasons behind an All-Star in Marc Gasol, he will now join forces with another in DeMarcus Cousins. There may be a bit more of an opportunity in Sacramento, especially given the drastic roster changes. Whatever the case may be, Koufos will provide rebounding and size off the bench.
DeMarre Carroll, Toronto Raptors: When Carroll was in a Jazz uniform, he was a fan favorite due to his defense, hustle and attitude. Those qualities helped him excel with the Atlanta Hawks, where he took his game up several notches, particularly in their postseason run. After inking a four-year, $60 million contract with the Toronto Raptors, Carroll will once again assume a bigger role. With the Raptors retooling1, Carroll will start alongside DeMar DeRozan on the wings and will be looked to display more his offensive game. Toronto’s season ended in disappointment. Carroll will be looked to help change the fortunes of the team to the north.
THOSE WHO RE-SIGNED
Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks: Now a two-time All-Star, he was compensated accordingly. Millsap is simply one of the NBA’s most consistently good players, something that does not come as a shocker to Jazz fans at all. His advanced stats still remain stellar. Atlanta’s front line will be bolstered by Tiago Splitter’s addition and the Hawks should once again, led by Millsap’s excellence, contend in the Eastern Conference.
Lou Amundson, New York Knicks: Amundson, who saw action in one solitary game for the Jazz, keeps trudging along. Like Price, the hard-working big man had the best season of his career, largely due to the litany of injuries New York suffered. While the Knicks have changed things up, it should be another long season in the Big Apple. Amundson should have his chances to contribute once again.
Enes Kanter, Oklahoma City Thunder: Jazz fans are very familiar with the Kanter situation. He prospered offensively, averaging 18.7 PPG and 11.0 RPG since the February trade. Conversely, his defensive deficiencies have never been more exposed. His gigantic contract has some national media members shaking their heads, but the Thunder were in a corner, having to re-sign him or risk not being able to replace him given their financial situation. It will be quite interesting to see how he fares with a healthy line-up of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. Kanter will most likely not see as many touches, but Ibaka may help compensate for his woeful defense.
THOSE WHO STAYED PUT
Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks: Due to an amazing season, Korver can now be called an NBA All-Star. In remarkable fashion, he too seems to get better with age. His shooting was one of the biggest keys behind Atlanta’s tremendous season and he will be looked to lead again this season. Korver’s game will probably allow him to play for many years to come.
Al Jefferson, Charlotte Hornets: After helping put Charlotte finally on the map in 2014, earning All-NBA honors along the way, Jefferson suffered through a frustrating season. His scoring was his lowest mark since 2007, while his shooting was the worst of his career. Injuries definitely were a factor. Maybe a return of his health and some newcomers to the lineup could help Jefferson have a better go of it this year.
Marvin Williams, Charlotte Hornets: The move to Charlotte simply did not work well for Williams. It never really felt like he fit in, and his on-court production was minimal. Given the additions to the Hornets front court and wings2, Williams will most likely take a lesser role.
Devin Harris, Dallas Mavericks: Ironically, Harris will team up with the player the Jazz traded to obtain him. He has settled into a nice groove as the team’s third guard. Harris excels running the second unit and can start when needed.
Randy Foye, Denver Nuggets: Foye’s game took a major drop, as evidenced by his career-low numbers across the board. With the uncertainty in Denver, it may not bode well for Foye this season, as well.
Brandon Rush, Golden State Warriors: Rush did not add much to Golden State’s bench at all, but earned a ring nonetheless. He has never truly come back from his horrific injury of years ago, and this may be the end of the road for Rush in the NBA.
Steve Novak, Oklahoma City Thunder: Novak will continue to be a good citizen for the Thunder, while hit the timely 3-pointer every now and then. Oklahoma City still attempted to trade him this summer and that pursuit may continue this year.
Kris Humphries, Washington Wizards: It is hard to fathom the fact that Humphries is entering his 12th season. While he never became a star, he has settled into being a nice reserve who provides some scoring and rebounding. Humphries will look to continue contributing to a Washington team hoping to rise in the Eastern Conference.
TRAINING CAMP GUYS
Justin Holiday, Atlanta Hawks; Lester Hudson, Los Angeles Clippers: Just for kicks, there are a pair of former Jazz training camp alumni who are on NBA rosters. Holiday has a lot of similarities with Carroll, and could be poised to make a big jump for the Hawks.
Tony Brown and Jay Humphries, Brooklyn Nets; Jarron Collins, Golden State Warriors; Greg Foster, Milwaukee Bucks; Sidney Lowe, Minnesota Timberwolves; Derek Fisher, New York Knicks (head coach); Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix Suns (head coach); Earl Watson, Phoenix Suns; Howard Eisley, Washington Wizards: Just for kicks, part two. There are a number for former Jazzmen who are on NBA benches. Fisher struggled at New York’s helm, but with that roster, it is certainly difficult to come to any conclusions for his long-term coaching success. After being the NBA’s darlings in 2014, the Suns had a tough year. Hornacek’s team was once again the ninth seed. With a somewhat complex roster, it might be tough once again for Phoenix to crack the top eight.