Jazz sign 3 players on the first day of camp, more on the way
SALT LAKE CITY — Welcome to fall camp/free-agency frenzy, 2011-lockout style.
The Utah Jazz's first practice only included 12 players, and they continued training camp Saturday with three more NBA-seasoned players on the court.
But wait. They also have a couple more players in Utah from Europe waiting in the wings — none named Andrei Kirilenko, though.
And contrary to multiple reports, Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor insisted the team has not made a formal offer to veteran small forward Josh Howard.
Just another atypical day in the build up to an irregular season.
"It's a unique situation and everybody's going through it," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We just have to deal with it."
First, the free agency: According to Howard's camp, the Jazz made a "firm offer" to the eight-year pro, and he is "reviewing and expecting others."
O'Connor said no deal is on the table, but he did acknowledge that Utah is having "serious discussions" with the 6-foot-7 longtime Dallas swingman.
"I haven't made an official offer — no, no, that's incorrect," O'Connor said. "Have we talked about stuff? Yeah. ...
"We've had serious discussions," he added. "There's been nothing formal."
While O'Connor continues to pursue improving the Jazz roster — and he said the team is "going to continue to talk" about potentially acquiring new players — Corbin has his campers knee-deep in running, learning and practicing.
The Jazz are now up to 15 players in camp.
Former NBA point guards Jamaal Tinsley and Keith McLeod, an ex-Jazz player, and forward Trey Gilder, playing for Memphis in a brief, two-game stint in 2009, officially joined the team Saturday.
Tinsley, McLeod and Gilder signed non-guaranteed camp contracts, so they are fighting for roster spots for the upcoming 66-game season.
Two unnamed players from Europe without NBA experience are expected to begin training with the Jazz soon under a similar situation. The pair are in Utah but must receive clearance from the international basketball federation (FIBA) before being allowed to participate in camp. That could happen as soon as Monday.
By then, the Jazz will in the middle of two-a-days, which begin this morning on a not-so-restful Sunday. Utah will have a few more double sessions leading up to Saturday night's free public intrasquad scrimmage.
Corbin likes what he's seen so far in his camp director debut.
"I thought the guys were in good shape," Corbin said after his first day of running a camp as an NBA head coach. "They were really focused in on what we were trying to do and they came in willing to work, looking to work to get better."
Making defensive adjustments will be a key focal point early on in camp. While building on that and introducing offensive elements, Corbin will continue to use a mix-and-match approach to finding lineup rotations.
Every starting position is up for grabs, he said. Corbin wants to bring the competitive fire out of his guys, and so far so good.
"It was great just to see," Corbin said. "You kind of think about where you were last year. You talk about doing things to get better this year and the work guys need to put in coming back to training camp.
"And then," he added, "you see them on the floor and you're like, 'Wow. They make the extra stride now because of the work they put in, in the summer and their desire they show by working during the lockout to come back in great shape."
O'Connor's first impression of a Corbin-run camp session?
"They got tired quick," he said.
But O'Connor liked what he saw from his office window that overlooks the practice courts at Zions Bank Basketball Center.
"It was a good tired," he said, "because they got tired because they were working."
That's what camp is all about for Corbin.
Not that he spent a lot of time trying to pump his players up with a motivational pre-camp pep talk.
"I didn't want to have them sit there and fall asleep and (then) try to wake them up for practice," he joked.
Corbin's message: "Just to be ready to play. Everybody come in and compete, conduct yourselves as professionals."
Playing nice with all of the new guys when they come in on a seemingly daily basis is a given.
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