The Utah Jazz are currently accepting applications. After shipping rookie point guard Eric Maynor to the Thunder last week, there’s a vacancy for a point guard to back up Deron Williams. Right now, the team only has Ronnie Price (3.3 ppg and 1.5 apg) holding down the fort as Williams’ main reserve and are looking for an upgrade.
While it’s doubtful that the Jazz will find the sixth man of the year in this hunt, they can certainly find someone who can give them 10-15 minutes a night of backup duties. Here are some of the avenues Utah can go in their search.
Get New Blood
This is probably the most unlikely route the Jazz will go. The odds that a D-League player with little or no NBA experience can do a better job than Price – who has four years of league experience under his belt – are slim. But that’s not saying you can’t get a quality player from the D-League. Remember, a lot of solid NBA players like Mikki Moore, Anthony Morrow and Will Bynum got their starts in the D-League.
If Utah opts to take a chance on a fresh face, the most likely candidate would be Dontell Jefferson from the Jazz’s farm team The Utah Flash. Jefferson, who got called up with the Bobcats last season, is having a good year averaging 19.4 ppg, 5.9 apg and 4.9 rpg. Jefferson is a big guard with a diverse skill set and his ability to play defense and his familiarity with the Jazz’s offense will certainly appeal to coach Jerry Sloan and GM Kevin O’Connor. Some of the other D-League players that the Jazz could consider are former Arizona standout Mustafa Shakur, Curtis Stinson (Iowa State) and Sundiata Gaines (Georgia).
Must Have NBA Experience
Right now, there are several unsigned point guards with NBA resumes waiting for the call. Mike Wilks, who coincidentally was waived by the Thunder to make room for Maynor, has played over 200 NBA games with eight different teams. At 5-10, he’s a little small, but he’s steady and reliable. If the Jazz want to go taller, they can go with 6-5 Antonio Daniels, who has 12-years of NBA experience and was cut by the Timberwolves at the start of training camp. Andre Barrett is a pass-first guard with a high basketball IQ that could work well in Sloan’s system. He has played for several NBA squads and played last season for European powerhouse FC Barcelona. If those options don’t work, the Jazz could always call up Stephon Marbury. Highly unlikely though.
Once A Jazz Player, Always A Jazz Player
If the Jazz are looking to add a veteran guard to the mix, why not sign someone who has already played in Utah? Brevin Knight, the 12-year vet who is currently unemployed, spent last season with the Jazz, where he averaged a career-low 2.4 ppg in 12.7 minutes. He struggled taking care of the ball and was a non-factor in the playoffs. But at the same time, he’s a true professional who tries to play within the system. Jacque Vaughn is another player who has Utah ties. He started his career in 1997, backing up John Stockton. He also has significant playoff experience and even won a chip with the Spurs back in ’07.
The youngest of the former Jazz point guards, Keith McLeod (30 years old), spent two seasons with Utah and even started over Deron during D-Will’s rookie year. Right now, McLeod is enjoying a productive season in the D-League, where he is averaging 19.3 points and 6.4 assists for the Albuquerque Thunderbirds. He still struggles with his shooting percentage (39%) but plays hard on both ends of the floor. Of course, if none of those options appeal to Jazz management, there’s one other point guard that Sloan wouldn’t mind having. “I’d take Stockton back probably if he was available,” Jerry told the media yesterday.
Who should the Jazz pick?