Jazz notes: Whaley, despite being traded, is back with Jazz

Second-year player will have no guarantees

Published: Tuesday, July 11 2006 12:00 a.m. MDT

Even after Utah traded Robert Whaley and his well-chronicled legal history to Toronto earlier this offseason, the rookie center was confident he'd soon return.

Whaley, aware the Raptors planned to waive him, indeed was on hand Monday when the Jazz opened Rocky Mountain Revue training camp in advance of Friday's start for the six-team summer league.

But he was there with no guarantees, no promises.

So be it, the 2005 second-round draft choice suggests.

"I'm just happy to be back," he said. "I'm ready to face any kind of obstacle that stands in front of me — and this was another obstacle I've got to go through. I'm willing to come back and prove myself again.

"The only thing that kind of worries me is the part that really don't exist. Everyone says, 'Oh, he's got a bad past.' But I really don't see that past that everybody can see. You know, I've never been convicted. I never did nothing really wrong. Now, trouble do follow me. But, you know, I'm gonna prove myself as far as basketball goes."

Whaley has a spotty arrest record, the most recent entry a matter in which he and teammate Deron Williams gave authorities false identities following a Park City bar incident.

That, though, did not dissuade the Jazz from inviting Whaley to summer camp shortly after the Raptors — who also acquired forward Kris Humphries in a deal for ex-BYU big man Rafael Araujo — released him.

"We made a commitment to him at the end of the year," Jazz basketball boss Kevin O'Connor said. "We said if he got down to a specific weight we would have him back. We traded him, he got cut. But we felt we owed (the invite) to him. He busted his tail to get down to that weight; he's at it."

The 6-foot-10 Whaley survived a self-described "boot camp" to get his weight, which ballooned following January arthroscopic knee surgery and March back troubles, down to his targeted low-260s range.

Now, he hopes to parlay Revue play into a fall-camp invitation.

"I kind of like proving myself," Whaley said. "When my back is against the wall, that's when I'm at my best I think. And right now my back is against the wall."

Even though he's in familiar territory.

"I'm just happy to still be around," the 24-year-old Michigan native said. "I look at Utah like home almost. I stayed here all summer. . . . It's a great place to raise my son. I love it here.

"And I really like Coach (Jerry) Sloan a lot, and I know he has a lot of faith in me as far as basketball goes. He sees something in me — or I wouldn't be here."

BIG LOSS: Araujo reported to Revue camp looking especially slim-and-trim, a far cry from the pudgy 291 pounds he carried coming out of college in 2004.

"He's shown he's dedicated to getting himself in shape," O'Connor said.

The Jazz will list the 6-11 Brazilian at 275 pounds; Araujo said he's actually about 270.

"I feel much better," he said. "(I've) tried to improve a lot on my body — be athletic, and just try to be in the best shape I can to play this game at this level."

BREWER CONTRACT: Jazz first-round draft choice Ronnie Brewer planned to take care of paperwork Monday — signing, as expected, a two-year, $3.19 million rookie contract. But he had no special spending plans. That was addressed late last month, when Brewer bought a nifty new watch while in Manhattan for the NBA Draft.

"It was a present for being in New York," the 21-year-old said. "My Mom said I could get it."

Second-round picks Dee Brown and Paul Millsap will play in the Revue on summer contracts with hopes of earning partially or fully guaranteed deals in the fall.

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