The Utah Jazz have never wrung their hands over losing a player, and they aren't about to start.
Free agent Shandon Anderson made his departure official at a Wednesday press conference in Houston. He flew there Tuesday to meet with the Rockets, who offered him a two-year, $4.2 million contract, with a player option for a third year at $2.4 million."If he does go, I wish him well. He's a free agent and has the right to do what he wants to do," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. "We had no control over it. We made him what we felt was a fair offer. If he doesn't want to play here, we can't help that."
The Jazz were offering Anderson a four-year, $15 million deal, and reportedly upped that offer to $16 million. Anderson refused to negotiate, claiming he didn't want to play in Utah because of the "lifestyle."
The move leaves the Jazz without a player who would have been their starting off-guard. Jeff Hornacek, who has been starting there for the past four years, will resume his customary spot in the lineup. The Jazz will also likely have to call on rookie draft choice Quincy Lewis to come along quickly as a backup.
"We can't sit and worry about it. What can you do? Life goes on. If he goes, we'll have to try to use the players we have to our advantage," Sloan added.
Utah, which tried until last week to sign Anderson, knew he was gone when his agent, Dan Fegan, announced Anderson would not return and told the Jazz not to contact them any more.
"I hate to see him go," said Sloan. "But until he signs the contract, I'm skeptical."
The Jazz could have received something in return for Anderson, had they given in to demands for a sign-and-trade deal. But owner Larry H. Miller vowed he wouldn't do so, because it served only the interests of the agent. As it now stands, both the Jazz and Anderson are losers. The Jazz lost a free agent without getting compensation and Anderson signed for just over half what he could have made as a Jazz player.
"We never wanted to sign and trade him. We wanted to keep him," said Sloan. He added, "We had hoped he'd want to come back, but if he wasn't going to come, there's nothing we can do. You just have to look yourself in the face and hope you did the right thing."
Sloan added that he had no indication in the three years Anderson was with the team that he was unhappy living in Utah.
Anderson may be consoled in knowing he is ticketed to start at off-guard, alongside rookie point guard Steve Francis. Sloan wouldn't speculate on how the minutes at 2-guard will be divided this season, saying training camp could bring some changes.
"We'll just have to do whatever we can and then go with whoever we have and cross that bridge when we come to it," he said.
Camp begins Oct. 5 in Boise.
The 25-year-old Anderson averaged 7.6 points a game in three years with the Jazz.
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