A few weeks ago, we discussed whether or not the Utah Jazz roster was complete. Given reports floating around, it appears that Utah may look toward training camp to make any additions to the squad.
In another nice move (to close out a summer full of nice moves), Dennis Lindsey opened up the Jazz’s practice facilities this month for “open gym” time–an opportunity for current players and free agents to come to Salt Lake City, work out, scrimmage, and prepare for the upcoming season. It also seems to be serving as a mini tryout for many Utah Jazz camp hopefuls. Several players have been rumored, either through different reports or their own tweets, to have been in town to show their stuff. As always, it appears the Jazz are doing their due diligence in preparation for training camp.
Here’s a quick run-down of those guys who’ve been tied to the Jazz the past few weeks:
Alexis Ajinca, center, 7’0″, 220 lbs, France, 25-yrs old, three NBA seasons
Last weekend, there were several reports that listed the Jazz and the Thunder as two teams interested in the Ajinca. He was a Charlotte first-round draft pick who has yet to blossom in the NBA. He spent two seasons for the Bobcats and then spent time with both Dallas and Toronto. Since 2011, he’s been playing in France but may now have a desire to return to the NBA. He is long and has a wingspan that rivals fellow Frenchman Rudy Gobert–7’8.75″. He is still young and has potential as a shotblocker.
Earl Barron, center, 7’0″, 245 lbs, University of Memphis, 32-yrs old, seven NBA seasons
Several sources indicate that Barron was in town this week. He is an interesting name, given his experience and age. He has good length and solid athleticism. He is the epitome of a journeyman. While he has played seven NBA seasons, he’s only seen action in 124 career games for seven different teams (MIA, NYK, PHO, MIL, POR, GSW, WAS), sporting career averages of 4.9 ppg and 3.7 rpg (just 37.5% FGs–a very low mark for a 7’0″). He’s also spent time in Turkey, Italy, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and the D-League. Think about the frequent flyer miles. Last year he split time between the Wizards and Knicks, averaging 3.3 ppg and 5.1 rpg. Just to get you excited a touch, he did have 11 pts and 18 rbds in the final game of the season for New York.
Justin Holiday, swingman, 6’6″, 185 lbs, University of Washington, 24-yrs old, one NBA season
The older brother of NBA All-Star Jrue, Holiday has been popular amongst teams looking to fill out their roster. He latched on to team up with his brother late last season in Philadelphia and spent the summer with them before being waived in August. He was able to use the end of the season to get some experience, averaging 4.7 ppg, 1.6 rpg, and 1.7 apg in 15.8 mpg. He has also spent time overseas in Belgium (Okapi Aastar) and in the D-League (Idaho Stampede; 17.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.5 apg, 2.4 spg, 41% 3FG). He is a nice outside shooter who can play multiple positions.
James Johnson, forward, 6’9″, 245 lbs, Wake Forest University, 26-yrs old, four NBA seasons
Perhaps the most intriguing guy on this list, Johnson has surprisingly not been picked up by anyone. A former first-round pick who has seen some solid playing time in the NBA usually would have at least an invite by now. Johnson can play both forward positions and is quite athletic. He even made a game-winner against the Jazz a few years back. His best season was 2011-12 with Toronto, where he started 40 games for the Raptors and averaged 9.1 ppg and 4.7 rpg. He also added 1.1 spg and 1.4 bpg, which shows he can be active. Johnson can hit the jump shot, but is woeful beyond the arc. He spent last year with Sacramento. Besides the Jazz, the Spurs were reported to be interested. That should be enough to alert Dennis Lindsey.
Kevin Jones, forward, 6’8″, 251 lbs, West Virginia University, 24-yrs old, one NBA season
An undrafted rookie who spent most of the season with Cleveland last year. While he tore it up with the Cavs’ D-League affiliate (22.4 ppg, 11.2 rpg), his rookie campaign was nothing to write home about (3.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg in 10.4 mpg). With Cleveland adding Andrew Bynum, Anthony Bennett, and Earl Clark, Jones was expendable for the Cavs. He’s a big body who can bang around. He has already had a workout with the Jazz.
Dallas Lauderdale, forward, 6’8″, 260 lbs, Ohio State University, 25-yrs old, rookie
Lauderdale’s is another physical guy. He signed a non-guaranteed contract with Portland last season, but did not make the roster. He played for their summer league entry this summer. Lauderdale’s claim to fame may be playing college ball with former Jazz center Kosta Koufos. He came to SLC at the same time as Flip Murray did.
Flip Murray, combo guard, 6’4″,190 lbs, Shaw University, 34-years old, 8 NBA seasons
A complete blast from the past. In a recent interview, Murray mentioned that he came out to Utah for a workout. Given the youth movement, this news was a bit of surprise, given his age and the fact that he has not logged an NBA minute since 2010. Pehaps the Jazz view him as another veteran mentor type player. A 2002 second-round pick, Murray has enjoyed a long, sometimes successful career. In his second year, he emerged from no where. Taking advantage of some injuries, he showed an ability to put points on the board as a scorer off the bench for the Sonics. He has played 487 games for eight teams (MIL, SEA, CLE, DET, IND, ATL, CHA, CHI), with career stats of 9.9 ppg (41.4% FGs, 30.4% 3s), 2.3 apg, and 2.1 rpg.
James Nunnally, swingman, 6’7″, 205 lbs, UC Santa Barbara, 23-yrs old, rookie
Nunnally has been working out for a number of teams, including the Jazz. He was a four-year player at UCSB and spent last year in Greece and with the Bakersfield Jam, the new Utah D-League affiliate. He is a shooter who has shown the ability to knock down the three-point shot wherever he’s gone (40% for Bakersfield). He also was a nice rebounder in college.
D.J. Richardson, guard, 6’3″, 195 lbs, Illinois, 22-yrs old, rookie
Richardson was a four-year player at Illinois who went undrafted. He tallied 12.3 ppg and 3.9 rpg last year, but shot just 36% from the field. It sounds like he will be in Utah this week.
Xavier Silas, guard, 6’5″, 205 lbs, Northern Illinois, 25-yrs old, one NBA season
Silas went undrafted in 2011, but after spending that year in France and in the D-League, was signed by Philadelphia the final week of the season (5.5 ppg in two games). Last season, he averaged 12.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, and 3.0 apg for the Maine Red Claws. He shot just 38% from the field and 30% from beyond the arc.
Lindsey has shown a desire to leave no stone unturned. With the mini camp the Jazz ran earlier in the summer, along with summer league and this “open gym” time, Utah is doing its best to discover talent, both for now and perhaps for the future. There may be other names that crop up over the next week. With Utah Jazz media day slated for September 30, the season is fast-approaching. Perhaps some of these guys will be given their chance come training camp.