Utah Jazz: Raja Bell questions his future in Utah

Published: Tuesday, May 8 2012 2:18 p.m. MDT

Players enter the ESA as Utah Jazz players clean out their lockers after being swept in the first round of the NBA playoffs in Salt Lake City Tuesday, May 8, 2012.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Related list: Utah Jazz players' summer plans and final thoughts

SALT LAKE CITY — The morning after being swept by San Antonio, most Utah Jazz players talked about how satisfying their past playoff season was and expressed optimism for the future.

And then there was Raja Bell.

The 12-year veteran has one season remaining on his three-year deal with the Jazz, but he is convinced his stay in the Beehive State is over.

Bell started his candid nine-minute interview at Tuesday's locker clean-out with the verbal bombshell, "I don't think I have a future with the team."

By the time he was finished expressing his disgruntled feelings, Bell had touched on his dissatisfaction with his role, his relationship with Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin and his return to the Jazz organization.

Bell's biggest beef was about a communication gap with his coach, something that dates back to the 2010-11 season when he was displeased with the way Corbin told him about his decision to move him to a reserve role at the end of the year.

"I just thought that the way I was handled by Ty was unprofessional," Bell said.

Things came to a head this season when Bell had a locker room blow-up with Corbin in Philadelphia on March 9 and was sent home and suspended for the next game.

A lack of dialogue at the end of the season and in the playoffs — coupled with Bell being the only healthy Jazz player to not see any postseason action — soured the veteran to the point that he doesn't see a future here.

"When it gets to a point where there's absolutely no communication for months on end," Bell said, "I think we all know that that's irreparable damage."

Bell spoke positively of the Jazz's youth — "We've got some really, really good young kids," he said — but the 35-year-old didn't feel like he was in the team's plans as the season progressed. Bell even told the Jazz he would be amenable to a trade, thinking that it could benefit both parties. But that didn't come about.

Bell also said his relationship with Corbin and Jerry Sloan, the coach who was here when he re-signed with the Jazz two years ago, was "night and day." Though he can't see himself donning a Utah uniform again, Bell believes he has years remaining as an NBA player.

"I do think given the opportunity and a role that's established and not just jumping all over the place from night to night that I could contribute," Bell said. "Hopefully, (Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor) and the brass here find a way to make it work for all of us."

O'Connor offered a sarcastic response when asked about Bell's pointed comments.

"I would probably say, 'Gee, that's unexpected. I would have never thought that would've happened,' " said O'Connor, who obviously was not surprised by Bell's harsh words and accusations.

But O'Connor made it clear the Jazz will look into rectifying the situation.

"We'll deal with all that stuff behind closed doors as far as that goes," O'Connor said. "He's got a contract next year. We expect him to honor it. If we can make our team better, we will."

This season, O'Connor insisted that the Jazz will not do buyouts, so that solution would presumably have to be a trade unless Utah decided to use its amnesty clause on Bell.

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