Utah Jazz to sign veteran point guard Earl Watson

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 21 2010 8:45 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz will soon add one more veteran to their roster, but they're still waiting to see if one of their own will rejoin the team.

Point guard Earl Watson has agreed to terms with the Jazz and will sign in time to participate in fall camp next week, a source confirmed to the Deseret News.

Watson's imminent signing also all but ends any chances of a camp invitation in Utah for Mike James. The 35-year-old veteran guard, who's seen action with nine NBA teams, had expressed interest in playing for the Jazz this summer and participated in a workout in Utah last week.

It remains unknown, however, whether or not center Kyrylo Fesenko will sign to play a fourth season in Utah.

The restricted free agent, who's receiving interest from multiple NBA teams, is running out of time to sign a still-available $1.1 million qualifying offer from the Jazz that expires on Oct. 1.

The 31-year-old Watson, who also worked out for the Jazz last week, has played for five NBA teams during his nine-year career. It seems likely he will battle for backup point guard minutes behind Deron Williams with Ronnie Price.

Watson, a UCLA product, has career averages of 7.4 points, 4.7 assists and 1.0 steals since joining the league with Seattle in 2001. The unrestricted free agent averaged 7.8 points, 5.1 assists and 29.4 minutes with the Pacers last season. He led Indiana in assists and steals (career-high 104) in his only season with the team.

Interestingly, Watson dished out a career-high 16 assists in an overtime win against Utah while he played for Seattle in 2007.

Reached Tuesday, Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said he had "no comment" on Watson's situation.

Watson's agent did not respond to interview requests on Tuesday.

The Jazz GM also declined to comment about James and about what the potential signing of another point guard would have on Sundiata Gaines' situation. The former D-Leaguer, best known for his game-winning shot against LeBron James and Cleveland last season, has a non-guaranteed contract with Utah and is expected to be at camp on Monday.

Last week, O'Connor said he had "no indication" whether Fesenko would sign the offered deal from Utah. Fesenko's agent, Stu Lash, called it a "wait-and-see mode." The 7-foot-1, 300-pounder is hoping for a multi-year contract and has reportedly been in talks with multiple NBA teams, including Houston and Cleveland.

Watson will be the second veteran in as many weeks to join the Jazz. Utah signed journeyman center Francisco Elson last week to back up Al Jefferson and Mehmet Okur.

e-mail: jody@desnews.com

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