Utah Jazz notebook: Matthews crossing fingers for final roster spot

Published: Friday, Oct. 23 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — They've told him nothing, so Wesley Matthews didn't know what to make of the fact his main foe — NBA journeyman Ronald Dupree — was waived Thursday, making the undrafted rookie swingman from Marquette the last free agent standing in Utah.

Had he made the Jazz's roster for Wednesday's season opener at Denver? Is he in limbo? Or is he next to go?

"I have no idea," Matthews said prior to practice on a day the Jazz trimmed their roster to 14, one under the league-allowed maximum. "I'm just thankful every day, thank God every day and just keep going at it."

Jazz brass were noncommittal on Matthews' status.

"Well, he's still here," coach Jerry Sloan said. "He's shown a great deal of know-how, you might say. ... He's played hard, seems to have a little toughness. We'll see where he goes, you know?"

Are there further cuts coming?

"I'm not sure right now," added general manager Kevin O'Connor. "Are we gonna go into the season like this? I'm not sure right now."

The Jazz will continue scouring the NBA waiver wire for a possible pickup there, and much may depend on the status of shooting guard Kyle Korver, who, after missing six of seven preseason games, left town Thursday for a second opinion on his inflamed left knee.

If Korver's out long-term, the Jazz may a more-experienced fill-in.

Otherwise, Matthews — who'd make a prorated rookie minimum of $457,588 that becomes fully guaranteed only if he remains on the roster on Jan. 10 — may stay.

Ideally, though, the Jazz appear inclined to keep the just-turned 23-year-old.

"We like to keep people that's been here," Sloan said.

The Oregonian newspaper reported Thursday that small forward Ime Udoka cited Utah — along with Oklahoma City, Denver and Sacramento — as a potential suitor now that Portland's waived him.

The Jazz, though, seemingly prefer someone who's been around.

"History will tell you we kind of like to keep the guys that we've had through training camp," O'Connor said. "That's something that guys earn it."

Teammates are pulling for the popular Matthews.

"He has the right attitude," guard Ronnie Price said. "Everything will work out for him. ... The way he handles himself, I think he's right on track."

Matthews, meanwhile, said he'll try to "just not change ... and keep working hard, playing defense and focusing in on getting better and helping this team get as many wins as possible."

"Just be who I am, on the court, off the court, and keep playing ball," he added. "I mean, I know this game. I know I can compete at this level."

JUST GO: The Jazz wanted Korver to seek a second opinion on his knee, which has bothered him for about a month because of apparent bad cartilage under the kneecap.

"We really told him, 'Look, this is frustrating to you; it's frustrating to us; we need you to go have this looked at by somebody else, so you're more comfortable in your head where it's at," O'Connor said. "We do that with every player.

"Kyle's been grouchy, and mopey, and unhappy and everything else, for not being on the court. He's somebody who really likes to play, and we're disappointed for him.

"He's not one of those guys that looks at preseason as, 'Ah, I'm not sure I want to go through it; I'm a veteran.' He wanted to play. He wanted to be out there."

BAD BACK: The Jazz didn't initially know why swingman Ronnie Brewer was late for practice Thursday, but later said it's because Brewer — who has until Oct. 31 to get his rookie contract extended without becoming a restricted free agent next offseason — was experiencing back spasms that prevented him from driving.

They also said the back is why he didn't travel for tonight's preseason game at Sacramento.

STILL GONE: Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko's wife Masha and newly adopted daughter Sasha remain home in Russia, awaiting immigration paperwork so they can get to Utah.

"I'm missing them," Kirilenko said, "but I can't do much about it. I don't want to fly again."

Kirilenko has made five transoceanic flights in the past month, two for the adoption.

He said wasn't tired because of the extensive travel, but "it takes a little bit of your head away."

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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