Archive for the ‘ Utah Jazz Blog ’ Category

Utah Jazz waive Dwayne Jones II

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has waived center/forward Dwayne Jones II. Following the move, the Jazz roster now stands at 19 players.

Jones II (6-11, 250, Saint Joseph’s) appeared in one preseason game for Utah.

As NBA preseason continues, lots of players around the league who were signed to non-guaranteed “training camp contracts” will be let go. Regular season rosters can only be 15 players or fewer.

The Jazz will tip off its 40th NBA campaign against Northwest Division rival Oklahoma City Thunder on October 30 at EnergySolutions Arena at 7 p.m. MT (ROOT, 1280 AM/97.5 FM).

The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke, who fractured his right index finger during the first half of Saturday’s preseason game vs. the Los Angeles Clippers:

Following several medical consultations, it was determined that Burke will undergo surgery to repair the bone fracture in his right index finger. The procedure will be performed on Tuesday in Salt Lake City by Dr. Douglas Hutchinson. An estimated time for recovery will be provided following the completion of the procedure.

Selected in the first round (ninth overall pick) of the 2013 NBA Draft, Burke (6-1, 190, Michigan) was acquired by the Jazz in a draft-night trade with Minnesota. Burke spent two seasons at the University of Michigan, where as a sophomore, the point guard led Michigan to the 2013 NCAA Championship Game and was the consensus selection as 2013 National Player of the Year. Burke averaged 18.6 points, 6.7 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 38.4 percent from three-point range in 38 games his sophomore season. His 255 assists set a new Michigan single-season assist record while his 3.02 assist-to-turnover ratio ranked fifth-best in the nation. He also hit the game-tying three pointer to force overtime in a win over Kansas to advance the Wolverines to the Elite Eight.

The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz rookie point guard Trey Burke:

X-rays revealed that Burke suffered a fractured right index finger during the first half of Saturday’s game vs. the Los Angeles Clippers.

He will be re-evaluated on Monday at which point an update on his status will be provided.

Lester Hudson joins Utah Jazz training camp

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has signed free-agent guard Lester Hudson, finalizing Utah’s 2013 training camp roster at 20 players.

Hudson (6-3, 190, Tennessee-Martin) has appeared in 52 career NBA games with four teams, over three seasons (Boston Celtics, Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers). The 29-year-old, who last played in the NBA during the 2011-12 season with Memphis, holds career averages of 4.8 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 10.3 minutes per game.

In 2012-13, Hudson was a member of the Dongguan Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association and the Austin Toros of the NBA D-League. He appeared in 11 games (10 starts) with the Toros, averaging 18.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 36.6 minutes and also saw action in four of the Toros playoff contests where his averages increased to 23.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists. In 15 games with the Leopards, he posted averages of 27.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 37.0 minutes.

The Memphis, Tenn., native was originally selected by the Boston Celtics in the second round (58th overall) of the 2009 NBA Draft after a stellar final two seasons at Tennessee-Martin. The highlight of his collegiate career occurred during his junior season when he became the first NCAA Division I men’s basketball player to record a quadruple-double, putting up a line of 25 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, and 10 steals vs. Central Baptist on 11/13/07.

Utah Jazz

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has signed free-agent forward Brian Cook, guard/forward Justin Holiday and center Dwayne Jones II. All three players will join the Jazz prior to this week’s training camp at Zions Bank Basketball Center. Following the three additions, Utah’s roster now stands at 19 players.

Cook (6-9, 234, Illinois) has appeared in 421 career NBA games (74 starts) over nine seasons from 2003-12. He spent his first four seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers before stints with the Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, and Washington Wizards and holds career averages of 5.5 points and 2.6 rebounds. The 32-year-old has also seen action in 31 career playoff games over four appearances with the Lakers and Rockets. In 2012-13, he appeared in two games for the Piratas de Quebradillas of Puerto Rico, averaging 9.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in 19.1 minutes. Cook was originally selected by the Lakers in the first round (24th overall) of the 2003 NBA Draft.

Holiday (6-6, 185, Washington) split time between the NBA and NBA Development League as a rookie in 2012-13, playing 47 games for the Idaho Stampede after attending training camp with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He finished the season with the Philadelphia 76ers, appearing in nine games for the Sixers, averaging 4.7 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in 15.8 minutes of play. He averaged 17.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 34.7 minutes during his time with the Stampede and was selected to the 2013 NBA Development League All-Defensive Second Team. This summer, the 24-year-old native Californian participated for Philadelphia in the Orlando Pro Summer League, appearing in four games and averaging 9.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists.

Jones II (6-11, 250, Saint Joseph’s) has played in a total of 82 career games in the NBA, split between Boston, Cleveland, Charlotte, and Phoenix, owning career averages of 1.3 points and 2.3 rebounds in 7.8 minutes of action. The 30-year-old appeared in 21 games (17 starts) for the Texas Legends of the D-League during the 2012-13 season, averaging 8.8 points, 12.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in 30.5 minutes. Jones II most recently participated in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas with the Golden State Warriors. A native of Morgantown, W. Va., Jones was previously selected to the 2010 All D-League First Team, and was the Atlantic-10 Defensive Player of the Year his final year at Saint Joseph’s.

Vowing maturity, Jazz center Enes Kanter steps into spotlight

A wispy dark beard aside, not much appeared to have changed about Enes Kanter six months since he last appeared in a game for the Utah Jazz. Surrounded by children, Kanter fit right in, bouncing enthusiastically, smiling as he played shooting games and behaving like the big, fun-loving kid Jazz fans have come to know him as in the two years since the franchise made him the No. 3 overall pick in the NBA Draft.

But Kanter, who turned 21 in the offseason, said a summer of rehabbing from shoulder surgery and an anticipated spike in on-floor responsibility matured him — even though he said the beard won’t make it to Jazz training camp, which starts with Monday’s media day.

No more, he vowed, will the player who once emerged from the Jazz locker room wearing a SpongeBob SquarePants T-shirt use his popular Twitter feed to conduct a casting call for the women of Salt Lake City to join him at the Cheesecake Factory, or to disseminate photos showing off his physique. Like it or not, the Jazz’s most entertaining player seems to be growing up.

“When I was in my first two years,” Kanter said, “I was thinking I’m not going to get old, I’m just going to be like this my whole life. I was wrong. You grow up. And the stuff I put out there, rookie mistakes.”

Reported by Bill Oram of the Salt Lake Tribune

Utah Jazz waive guard Jerel McNeal

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has waived guard Jerel McNeal. Following the move, Utah’s roster now stands at 13 players.

McNeal (6-3, 200, Marquette), whose first name is pronounced Jah-rell, was originally signed by the Jazz to a 10-day contract on March 27 from the NBA Development League’s Bakersfield Jam, then signed for the remainder of the 2012-13 season on April 6.

McNeal did not appear in a game for the Jazz.

utah jazz

The Utah Jazz announced today that the organization has named Justin Zanik as the team’s assistant general manager. In this newly created position, Zanik will participate in all areas of day-to-day management of the team. Zanik is expected to assume his new role on September 1.

“Justin possesses an extensive amount of international experience, an intimate knowledge of the collective bargaining agreement and a noted ability to work with players, agents and NBA management,” said Utah Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey. “He is a high-character individual with a strong work ethic and will be a tremendous addition to the Jazz basketball operations staff. I am very happy to welcome Justin, his wife, Gina, and their children to the Jazz family.”
A National Basketball Players Association certified agent since 2003, Zanik has been involved in all aspects of athlete representation for the past 15 years. He comes to the Jazz from ASM Sports, where he has served as Vice President of the Andy Miller-led agency since 2004. Zanik oversaw all aspects of career management for ASM’s basketball clients, ranging from contract negotiations to career planning and client services, including the creation of marketing opportunities and community initiatives. He was also an integral part of all of ASM’s contract and statistical analysis during preparation for free agency, and also developed and customized ASM’s pre-draft training, interview and workout programs.

Prior to joining ASM, Zanik spent four years as Vice President of Basketball Operations for Priority Sports & Entertainment from 1998 to 2002, where he managed European player contract negotiations and assisted in negotiation, research and recruitment of Priority’s NBA clients.

Zanik graduated from Northwestern University in 1998 with a degree in Economics.

Derrick Favors

Even with an undeniable new layer of muscle, Derrick Favors has a long way to go to catch his newest mentor in terms of bulk. That’s because almost any NBA would have a long way to go to catch Favors’ newest mentor in terms of bulk. That, in turn, is because his newest mentor is Karl Malone.

Favors, the projected started power forward for the Jazz, has spent nearly two months working out daily alongside the No. 2 scorer in NBA history.

No, Favors has not taken to running sprints with parachutes tied to his waist.

Not yet, anyhow.

The two Jazz big men are working primarily on a different muscle, Favors said.

“He just taught me just a lot of mental stuff,” he said. “During workouts we’re just talking. He was just showing me things here and there, that everything was mostly mental.”

Reported by Bill Oram of the Salt Lake Tribune

Utah Jazz sign guard John Lucas III

Utah Jazz sign guard John Lucas III

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has agreed to terms with free-agent guard John Lucas III. Lucas joins Utah after spending the 2012-13 season with the Toronto Raptors.

A 5-11, 165-pound guard out of Oklahoma State, Lucas owns career NBA averages of 5.1 points, 1.5 assists and 1.0 rebounds in 11.8 minutes over five seasons with Houston, Chicago and Toronto. The veteran guard averaged 5.3 points and 1.7 assists in 13.1 minutes in a career-high 63 games last season with the Raptors. The season prior, Lucas averaged career-bests of 7.5 points, 2.2 assists and 1.6 rebounds in 14.6 minutes in 49 games (two starts) with Chicago. Lucas, who played his first two NBA seasons in Houston (2005-07), has also played professionally in the NBA Development League, Spain, China and Italy.

The 30-year-old Bellaire, Texas, native finished his collegiate career at Oklahoma State after spending his first two years at Baylor.

An All-Big 12 First Team selection and All-American as a junior and senior for the Cowboys (2003-05), he left the school with career averages of 16.3 points and 4.3 assists in 68 games at Oklahoma State. The Big 12 co-Player of the Year as a junior in 2004, Lucas was named Most Outstanding Player of the East Rutherford Regional of the NCAA Tournament after sinking one of the most stories shots in Oklahoma State history, drilling a three-pointer with 6.9 seconds remaining in the Regional Final against Saint Joseph’s, which advanced the Cowboys to the 2004 Final Four. Lucas is the son of John Lucas, Jr., the former NBA coach and longtime player who was the first overall pick of the 1976 NBA Draft.

Raul Neto will not yet join Utah Jazz

It looks like it will be another year before Brazilian playmaker Raul Neto is officially a Utah Jazz point guard.

Neto, who began training with his national team Thursday, said he anticipates returning to his Spanish team, Lagun Aro GBC, for another year instead of beginning his NBA career in Utah this fall.

“Go to the NBA is a dream I want to accomplish. I think we took the first step, but it is something that cannot be in a hurry,” Neto said, according to a Portuguese-to-English Google translation from a Basketeria.com.br report. “I have to wait for the right moment.”

The Jazz acquired the 21-year-old Neto on a draft-night trade with Atlanta after the Hawks selected him 47th overall. The 6-foot-2 point guard had an impressive debut with Utah at the summer league even after not being able to practice with his new team for almost a week because of a delay in receiving his clearance from basketball’s international governing body.

Reported by Jody Genessy of the Deseret News

The NBA summer league is the first real professional basketball for recent draftees, so it’s often a wide-eyed experience.

Former Michigan star Trey Burke averaged 8.8 points, four assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.2 turnovers and was 1-for-19 from three-point range and shot 24% from the field in his summer-league games with the Utah Jazz, who drafted him No. 9 overall.

In an espn.com chat today, Burke addressed his struggles.

“I felt like summer league was a great experience,” he said. “I needed it. It showed me that I have some work to do. My shot was flat due to my legs. I thought I did a good job with the team and picked up on some things, like on offense and what we’re doing defensively.”

Reported by Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press

Warriors get Andre Iguodala from Nuggets in three-team trade

The Golden State Warriors have acquired veteran guard/forward Andre Iguodala (E-gu-doll-a) in a sign-and-trade deal from the Denver Nuggets and guard Kevin Murphy from the Utah Jazz as part of a three-team trade, it was announced today.  As part of the deal, the Warriors sent center Andris Biedrins, forward Richard Jefferson and guard/forward Brandon Rush, along with two future first round (2014 & 2017), two future second round (2016 & 2017) draft picks and cash considerations, to the Jazz, as well as a future second round (2018) draft pick to the Nuggets.  The Nuggets also received guard Randy Foye in a sign-and-trade deal from Utah, while the Jazz also received a future second round (2018) pick from Denver.

Iguodala, 29, is a nine-year NBA veteran, who owns career averages of 15.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.74 steals in 37.4 minutes per game over 695 regular-season contests (all starts) with the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets.  Additionally, he has appeared in 41 career playoff games, averaging 14.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.80 steals during the postseason.  The 6’6” swingman was a member of the 2012 Eastern Conference All-Star team, an NBA All-Defensive Second Team selection in 2010-11 and earned First Team All-Rookie honors in 2004-05, all while playing with Philadelphia.  Additionally, the University of Arizona product earned gold medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey as a member of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team.

Originally selected by Philadelphia with the ninth overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, Iguodala played the first eight years of his career with the 76ers before landing in Denver prior to the 2012-13 campaign as part of a four-team, 12-player trade.  Last season, the Springfield, IL, native averaged 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.74 steals and 34.7 minutes in 80 regular-season games for the Nuggets.  He ranked 11th in the NBA in steals per game in 2012-13 and his 5.4 assists per game average ranked third among all NBA shooting guards, behind only Kobe Byrant (6.0 apg) and James Harden (5.8 apg).  In Denver’s first round playoff series against Golden State, Iguodala averaged 18.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.00 steals in 40.6 minutes over six games, leading the team in assists, steals and minutes, while ranking second in points and rebounds.

“Andre Iguodala was a free agent that we targeted from Day 1 and we are thrilled that he chose to join our team,” said Warriors General Manager Bob Myers. “His versatility as a player should help us tremendously on both sides of the court and we feel that his specific, unique skill set blends very well with the players already on our roster. Additionally, he will serve as a great asset to our young team as we continue to grow and develop in the coming years.”

Murphy, 23, played his rookie NBA season with the Utah Jazz in 2012-13, appearing in 17 games and averaging 0.9 points in 3.1 minutes per contest.  Selected by the Jazz in the second round (47th overall) of the 2012 NBA Draft after a four-year career at Tennessee Tech, the 6’6” guard also appeared in 14 games (12 starts) this past season with the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Development League, averaging 13.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 28.6 minutes per contest.

Biedrins, 27, appeared in 53 games for the Warriors last season, averaging 0.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 0.79 blocks in 9.3 minutes per contest.  Selected by the Warriors with the 11th pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, the 7’0” Latvian national has played his entire nine-year NBA career with Golden State, appearing in 510 regular-season games (311 starts) and averaging 6.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.14 blocks and 21.8 minutes per contest.

Jefferson, 33, appeared in 56 games with Golden State last season, averaging 3.1 points and 1.5 rebounds in 10.1 minutes per contest.  A 12-year NBA veteran, Jefferson owns career averages of 15.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game over 852 regular-season games with New Jersey, Milwaukee, San Antonio and Golden State.

Rush, 28, missed the final 80 games last season after suffering a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee in the second game of the regular season against Memphis on November 2, 2012. In 2011-12, his first season with Golden State, the 6’6” swingman appeared in 65 games (one start), averaging a career-high 9.8 points to go along with 3.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 26.4 minutes per contest.  A five-year NBA veteran, Rush owns career averages of 9.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 26.8 minutes in 291 games (105 starts) with Indiana and Golden State.

Charlotte Bobcats sign Al Jefferson

Charlotte Bobcats sign Al Jefferson

It took a while, but the Charlotte Bobcats finally have a big guy that can play some basketball.

Bobcats President of Basketball Operations Rod Higgins announced today that the team has signed free agent center Al Jefferson.

“We are ecstatic to add Al to our roster,” Higgins said. “He gives us a low post presence that we have not had on our roster and brings a skill set that does not become available very often. He is a veteran leader who helps his teammates get better, but at the same time he is only 28 years old so he can be part of the core of this franchise for several years to come.”

The 15th pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, the 6-10 Jefferson has played in 628 games for the Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz during his nine-year career. He has career averages of 16.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.4 blocks in 30.6 minutes, while shooting .500 from the field.

Jefferson is one of only two players in the NBA to have averaged at least 17.0 points and at least 9.0 rebounds in each of the last six seasons, joining Dwight Howard in doing so. No other player has posted those averages in more than four of the last six campaigns.

Over his last three seasons, all with Utah, Jefferson missed just nine regular season games, playing in 221 of a possible 230 contests. During that span, he averaged 18.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 blocks in 34.4 minutes, while shooting .494 from the field and .767 from the free-throw line. He has finished the season in the NBA’s top 10 in defensive rebounds in each of the three seasons and has been among the league’s top eight in field goals in each of the last two years.

Last season with the Jazz, Jefferson averaged 17.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.0 steal in 33.1 minutes played. He led all NBA centers in field goals, ranked second among NBA centers in scoring average and ranked fourth among NBA centers in defensive rebounds, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Utah Jazz President Randy Rigby announced today the return of Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan to the franchise as a senior basketball adviser.

In this role, Sloan will support the Jazz basketball operations and coaching staff through player evaluations at workouts, camps, and summer league; limited pro and regional college scouting; occasional practice observation; and as host of an annual prep and college coaches clinic.

“The basketball knowledge and experience that Jerry brings is invaluable, and his insights will help in our pursuit of becoming a championship-caliber team,” said Rigby. “We are pleased to formally welcome Jerry back into the organization as an adviser.”

“I am glad Jerry is going to continue to be involved with our organization,” said Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin. “We will benefit from his wealth of basketball experience. I am looking forward to his continued contributions.”

“In my new role with the Jazz franchise, I hope to help the basketball operations staff and Ty in any way that I can to achieve their goals,” said Sloan. “I would like to thank the Miller family for the opportunity to be part of the organization again.”

During his 23 seasons as head coach of the Jazz (1988-2011), Sloan guided the Jazz to 19 playoff appearances, two NBA Finals (1997, 1998), seven division titles, a streak of 16 consecutive winning seasons (1988-2004), 13 seasons with 50-plus wins and three with 60-plus wins. Sloan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 11, 2009.

To catch you up to speed on Utah Jazz legends, Jerry Sloan is still mentioned in job-opening rumors, Jeff Hornacek is the Phoenix Suns head coach and Karl Malone has agreed to mentor his old team’s big men.

Oh yeah, and John Stockton is now … an author!?

Yes, really.

The Hall of Fame point guard’s autobiography “Assisted” — co-authored by Kerry L. Pickett — will be released this fall.

Deseret Book posted an Instagram photo of Stockton signing his Shadow Mountain-published book Thursday from the Book Expo America in New York City.

Reported by Jody Genessy of the Deseret News

Jazz beat Warriors 97-90, regain 8th spot in West

Some Utah Jazz players watched the Lakers-Clippers game on a big-screen television inside the locker room while they prepared to face the Golden State Warriors. Others followed the contest on cellphones while riding on the late bus to the arena. Coach Tyrone Corbin just checked the final score when the Lakers lost.

”You could see the look on everybody’s face change,” Jazz guard Randy Foye said. ”Nobody said anything. It was just everybody had that look on their face, ‘You know what time it is. You know what we have to do.”’

While the Warriors had a chance to seal a playoff spot, Utah seized the opportunity for itself.

Mo Williams hit a huge 3-pointer in the final seconds to finish with 25 points, Al Jefferson added 19 points and 12 rebounds and the Jazz regained the Western Conference’s final playoff position over the Lakers by holding off the Warriors 97-90 on Sunday night for a monumental road win…

Williams’ 3-pointer with 13.4 seconds remaining put Utah ahead by six and spoiled Golden State’s shot to clinch a playoff berth in front of a 29th sellout crowd of 19,596. The Jazz moved a half-game ahead of the Lakers for the eighth seed. Utah also owns the tiebreaker after winning the season series 2-1 against the Lakers, who lost to the Clippers 109-95 earlier in the day…

Stephen Curry scored 17 of his 22 points in the first half and Klay Thompson had 20 points for the Warriors, who were trying to clinch a postseason spot for the first time since 2007 and just the second in 19 years…

David Lee, who has never been to the playoffs in his eight NBA seasons, added 21 points and 13 rebounds for Golden State, which was outplayed inside by Utah’s front line of Jefferson, Derrick Favors (12 points, 13 rebounds) and Paul Millsap (11 points, six rebounds) most of the way.

– Reported by Antonio Gonzalez of the Associated Press

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has signed guard Jerel McNeal for the remainder of the season.

McNeal (6-3, 200, Marquette), whose first name is pronounced Jah-rell, was originally signed by the Jazz to a 10-day contract on March 27 from the NBA Development League’s Bakersfield Jam but has not yet appeared in a game. He was the NBA’s 30th overall D-League Call-Up of the 2012-13 season and 26th different player called up.

A 25-year-old two-time NBA D-League All-Star selection, McNeal averaged 18.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists in 44 games (36 starts) in 2012-13 for the Jam, who acquired him in a trade with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers prior to the season. McNeal also tallied 13 points and seven assists for the Prospects team during the 2013 D-League All-Star Game on February 14 as part of NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston. In addition, McNeal was a D-League All-Star selection in 2011 while a member of the Vipers.

Undrafted in 2009, this marks McNeal’s second career NBA regular-season stint, having previously spent 10 days with the New Orleans Hornets from March 9-19, 2011, although he did not appear in a game. McNeal attended 2012 training camp with the Toronto Raptors but was waived prior to the 2012-13 season, and has also participated in NBA training camps with the Los Angeles Clippers (2009) and Houston Rockets (2010). He has also played with Dexia Mons-Hainaut in Belgium (2009-10) and Sutor Montegranaro of the Italian League (2011-12), in addition to D-League seasons with Rio Grande Valley (2010-11) and Bakersfield (2012-13).

Following the move, the Jazz roster remains at 15 players.

Playoffs within reach for Utah Jazz

It’s the thrill of the chase.

Needless to say, the Utah Jazz would rather it wasn’t this way. They’d much prefer to have already locked up a playoff berth and save their fans and management the hand-wringing that will inevitably accompany the remaining eight games of a bizarre, disjointed season.

But, still, in their second annual final-weeks push for the eighth spot, there is a sense of excitement around a team left for dead as recently as a week ago.

“I told the guys the other night man, if you like to compete,” coach Tyrone Corbin said, “you like to be in these kinds of fights. This is where you figure out where you are.”

Entering Monday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Jazz (38-36) are in eighth in the West, holders of a tiebreaker with the Los Angeles Lakers by virtue of a 2-1 win in the season series.

– Reported by Bill Oram of the Salt Lake Tribune

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has signed guard Jerel McNeal of the NBA Development League’s Bakersfield Jam to a 10-day contract, the NBA’s 30th overall D-League Call-Up of the 2012-13 season and 26th different player called up. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

A 25-year-old two-time NBA D-League All-Star selection, McNeal (6-3, 200, Marquette) has averaged 18.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists in 44 games (36 starts) in 2012-13 for the Jam, who acquired him in a trade with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers prior to the season. McNeal also tallied 13 points and seven assists for the Prospects team during the 2013 D-League All-Star Game on February 14 as part of NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston. In addition, McNeal was a D-League All-Star selection in 2011 while a member of the Vipers.

Undrafted in 2009, this will mark McNeal’s second career NBA regular-season stint, having previously spent 10 days with the New Orleans Hornets from March 9-19, 2011, although he did not appear in a game. McNeal attended 2012 training camp with the Toronto Raptors but was waived prior to the 2012-13 season, and has also participated in NBA training camps with the Los Angeles Clippers (2009) and Houston Rockets (2010). He has also played with Dexia Mons-Hainaut in Belgium (2009-10) and Sutor Montegranaro of the Italian League (2011-12), in addition to D-League seasons with Rio Grande Valley (2010-11) and Bakersfield (2012-13).

The Chicago native played four seasons at Marquette University (2005-09), averaging 15.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists during his tenure. McNeal finished his four-year career as Marquette’s all-time leader in scoring (1,985), steals (287) and games played (130). In his senior season (2008-09), McNeal was named an Associated Press Second Team All-American, First Team All-Big East, USBWA Distract 5 Player of the Year and Marquette University’s Most Valuable Player after averaging 19.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.03 steals.

McNeal becomes the 10th D-League Call-Up in Jazz history, joining Rusty LaRue (2000-01), Mikki Moore (2003-04), Louis Amundson (2006-07), Sundiata Gaines (2009-10), Othyus Jeffers (2009-10), Marcus Cousin (2010-11), Kyle Weaver (2010-11), Blake Ahearn (2011-12) and Travis Leslie (2012-13).

McNeal, whose first name is pronounced Jah-rell, will wear uniform #23 for the Jazz.

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