Veteran point guard Earl Watson has sincere interest in re-signing with the Jazz, a source told The Salt Lake Tribune on Friday.
Watson, 32, will be an unrestricted free agent once the market officially opens Dec. 9.
Utah has yet to make contact with Watson since Wednesday, when teams were allowed to begin informal negotiations with agents. The sides are expected to talk during the next few days.
Watson re-signing with the Jazz makes sense. Utah will likely add two backup point guards to support starter Devin Harris, and Watson has a firm grasp of the Jazz's offensive and defensive systems. He also enjoyed his 2010-11 run with Utah and living in Salt Lake City.
Still, the respected 10-year veteran will have other options.
Watson played 80 games (13 starts) for the Jazz last season, averaging 4.3 points and 3.5 assists. He was Utah's best free agent signing, and brought renewed attention to his smart, speedy game. As a result, several other teams are expected to pursue him, and Watson will have to balance his preference for the Jazz with his market value.
Also an unproven coaching staff, no back-up pgs, inexperience, little defense especially if AK leaves, and a log jam at the 4 with no 5, etc., etc. Takes stars to win. They don't appear to have that right now.
Kanter and Favors both look more then capable of playing the 5, and you don't need stars to win. You just need to outplay the other team. It's as simple as that.
Either way, they're probably not very good. They have an advantage because of the lockout, but they're not going to make the playoffs. That's probably a good thing anyways since they'll end up with lots of lottery picks that way.
Illinois-Chicago small forward Paul Carter has accepted a camp invitation from the Jazz, according to his agency. Edge Sports International president Keith Kreiter tweeted Monday that the 6-foot-8 Carter, who had two pre-draft workouts with Utah this summer, "has a real chance to earn a spot."
Keith Kreiter, CEO of Edge Sports International, tweeted Monday rookie forward Paul Carter has accepted an invitation to the Jazz's training camp, which starts Friday.
Carter worked out July 21 for Utah, along with Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker, and the 6-foot-8, 203-pound free agent impressed the Jazz during the session. Carter played two years at Minnesota before transferring to Illinois-Chicago. He averaged 14.7 points and 8.0 rebounds last season.
Looks like Evans might have to beat this guy out before they think of putting him in the rotation.
Alex Kennedy: I've heard a few rumors involving Al Jefferson today. It sounds like the Utah Jazz are shopping him. Twitter
Without providing any additional information Monday, Hoopsworld reported the Jazz are shopping starting center Al Jefferson.
The Tribune has received no indication that is the case, and sources have long said dealing Jefferson is difficult, since he has two years and $29 million remaining on his contract and is not considered to be a premier player in the league.
Seemed to be plenty of interest in him before the Jazz got him.
Unless a trade netted the Jazz a proven power-type athlete with decent low-post scoring ability, Utah would be gambling that youngsters Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are ready for prime-time roles. While Favors' progression late last season was promising, it is highly unlikely the organization will put any additional pressure on Kanter, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft. Furthermore, the Jazz are open to seeing how veteran center Mehmet Okur plays during camp before making a decision about his future.
They've got Millsap. Jefferson needs to go regardless of Favors, Kanter and Okur. Again why did they acquire him in the first place when they had Millsap already in place? Made absolutely no sense. Okur needs to go too.
Trading Jefferson would also put second-year coach Tyrone Corbin in the hole before a chaotic season has even begun
Why does it put him in the hole? He and Millsap were a bad fit. Who knows what they get for him? How can u say it puts them in the hole?
while taking away the consistency and common-sense approach valued by key Jazz personnel
Getting him in the first place went away from common sense.
NBA teams were allowed to start openly negotiating with free agents Monday but, perhaps surprisingly, Jazz vice president of basketball operations Kevin O'Connor called it "a slow day."
O'Connor said most agents are slow-playing their hand in this gigantic poker game as they search for the best deal and situation for their clients.
Players are not allowed to sign contracts until Friday, so the sense of urgency in negotiations won't begin to build for another 48 hours.
" ... We're still trying to chase down some of the guys we're interested in," said O'Connor, who downplayed the monumental task of getting the season off the ground, which starts by finding and signing the final two or three Jazz members of what will likely be a 13- or 14-man roster.
"It is what it is," he said. "If you look at the overview, it probably can be overwhelming. But if you take it piece by piece — get players signed and then move on to the next step — then it becomes a little less overwhelming."
A source told The Salt Lake Tribune on Monday the Jazz have held several discussions with a representative for unrestricted free agent Earl Watson about returning to Utah but " ... there is nothing new to report." The Jazz will likely sign two point guards to play behind starter Devin Harris, since Ronnie Price and Watson — who filled the role last season — are UFAs.
The Utah Jazz need to add at least two players before the upcoming season begins.
It remains possible two familiar faces will fill those empty roster spots.
The Jazz are engaged in ongoing discussions with the camps of small forward Andrei Kirilenko and point guard Earl Watson, their agents told the Deseret News on Monday.
General manager Kevin O'Connor confirmed that he reached out to the former Jazz players on the team-owned radio station, 1320 KFAN.
O'Connor, who didn't immediately return calls from the Deseret News, first contacted Utah's current players when allowed Monday morning, he told play-by-play announcer David Locke. The Jazz G.M. then phoned former players who are free agents.
Monday marked the first day NBA front-office personnel were allowed to speak with players and free agents.
Kirilenko played for the Jazz the past 10 seasons, but he's currently under contract with CSKA Moscow in his native Russia. Though nursing a broken nose and recovering from a bruised shoulder, Kirilenko is expected to play again this weekend with his Russian team while NBA negotiations continue, according to his representative.
"He's still weighing his interest in different teams," agent Marc Fleisher said.
As for Watson, the veteran playmaker has maintained a hope to return to Utah since last spring. The 10-year pro felt more comfortable running the team's offense as his first season with Utah progressed, and he liked his reserve situation behind Deron Williams and Devin Harris.
"The organization knows how I feel," Watson enthusiastically told the Deseret News on Monday.
Watson also took the time to thank Jazz fans who participated in a "BringBackEarl" campaign on Twitter with this message: "Thank you to all of jazz nation! Great fans!"
Friday is the first day players can officially come to an agreement with teams or trades can be made, pending the ratification of the new collective bargaining agreement.
That's also when camps can begin.
The Jazz received good news on that front. Center Mehmet Okur will be here in time to participate from the get-go of the training sessions.
Okur was granted a release from his Turkish basketball team, allowing him to leave early despite a stipulation in the contract that he had to stay until a new NBA labor deal was officially in place.
Okur flew from Turkey to the United States on Monday. He's returning, by the way, in much-improved health, his agent said, as the center's surgically repaired left Achilles tendon and back have made significant progress from last season when he played in only 13 games for the Jazz.
Playing weight: Right now, it's closer to probably 195 or 200. … When I was doing my workouts I was working out with Tim Grover and obviously he puts the weight on you fast and the muscle to get you in the best shape. I was overseas in Cyprus and I wasn't a huge fan of some of the food. But it's a great experience and everything else. Now I'm back here and I'm obviously going to be training a lot harder and eating and getting back on my weight program. It's going to go back up to about 205, 210.
Small forward is his ideal position: Oh, yeah. I would think so. That's the position I would feel the most comfortable at, as far as playing in college and even overseas and the NBA. I know in the NBA there's the Carmelos and the big guys that play those positions and it's going to be a challenge for me to get out there guard — a lot of small forwards are a team's best scorers.
Teams can begin signing free agents and making trades on Friday, the same day training camps open. O'Connor said he would like to add another lead guard and an "athletic shooter." The latter may cost $10 million — which may be out of Utah's price range because it is over the salary cap.
Cut Raja. They are still over the cap without AK?
Corbin said that's a reason he won't change things as much offensively in the beginning. But there will be changes defensively.
Good to hear. Looking forward to seeing what they do at the defensive end.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said there are no set starters on the team heading into training camp, which starts Friday.
Corbin said forward Derrick Favors will be allowed to compete for a first-unit position, while C.J. Miles and Gordon Hayward could start at shooting guard and small forward.
"[Favors] could come in and blow us away," Corbin said.
Corbin believes that Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson can effectively hold down the frontcourt for the Jazz as a starting duo. He acknowledged they struggled at times last season, though.
Utah GM Kevin O'Connor said the organization is not actively trying to trade Millsap and Jefferson. O'Connor called their agents last week to inform them that any rumors should be disregarded.
The Jazz are open to using the mid-level exception to add a key player through free agency. However, O'Connor said the addition must strengthen the team.
Rookies Alec Burks and Kanter are expected to be in camp Friday, barring an unforeseen holdup with their contracts.
Kanter will have to earn his playing time, O'Connor said, and won't just take the court just because he was the No. 3 overall pick of the 2011 draft.
O'Connor said he had no contact with Portland about the team's open GM job. He's unsure whether the Blazers requested permission to speak with him, but was adamant he has no interest in leaving the Jazz and wants to see the team's rebuilding project come to fruition.
Some, including second-year pros Gordon Hayward, Jeremy Evans and Derrick Favors, have bulked up.
Good to her about Hayward and Evans.
Some, including C.J. Miles, have slimmed down. Mehmet Okur's health and movement have improved, too. Al Jefferson spent most of the offseason fine-tuning his body at a physical performance lab.
General manager Kevin O'Connor even credited Paul Millsap for looking "terrific" Wednesday at the team's practice facility.
The Jazz are expecting all nine of their players under contract and their two to-be-signed-soon rookies to report Friday.
O'Connor said the Jazz will have an additional four or five more players here for camp. It's possible that group will include a free agent or two. NBA teams will be able to sign new players — and make trades — beginning at noon Friday.
Corbin said the Jazz will work on defensive adjustments to begin camp. Aggressiveness, commitment and pick-and-roll defense will be priorities, and some unspecified changes will be made on how Jazz players rotate in help-defense situations.
"That's where we have to make our tremendous strides," Corbin said, "is on the defensive end to give us a chance to succeed."
To avoid overloading newcomers and to build on familiarity, offensive tweaks to the Jerry Sloan system he inherited will be made gradually as camp and the season progress.
Yahoo! Sports and ESPN reported Thursday the Jazz are interested in signing unrestricted free agent small forward Josh Howard.
Utah is in the market for an athletic 3 and a league source confirmed to The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday the Jazz have interest in Howard, an eight-year veteran who played in just 18 games for Washington last season. However, the source said considering Howard and signing him are two very different issues.
Howard, who played well for Dallas from 2003-10, is reportedly being pursued by San Antonio, Chicago, Denver, New Orleans and New Jersey. He has averaged 15.1 points and 5.9 rebounds during 453 games.
Yahoo! reported that Howard ideally wants to team up with ex-Nuggets center Nene, who is one of the premier big men available during free agency. If that report holds true and the Jazz stay in the mix for Howard, Utah would likely have to engage in a package deal that would include either Al Jefferson or Mehmet Okur.
Brian T. Smith
Jazz go after Nene? I'm a big fan of Nene but he's not worth the close to max contract that he's supposedly after.