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Utah Jazz, Raja Bell ready to part ways; guard could play for Heat

Published: Monday, July 9 2012 10:24 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — It looks like Raja Bell is going to get his wish — he will no longer be a member of the Utah Jazz.

The Jazz, according to a report Monday by The Salt Lake Tribune, have agreed to buy out the final year of the 6-foot-5 veteran shooting guard's contract, which would make him an unrestricted free agent who might very well wind up playing for the NBA champion Miami Heat or Los Angeles Lakers during the upcoming season.

Bell, who will turn 36 years old before the 2012-13 season begins, was scheduled to make $3.4 million with the Jazz this season in what would have been the third and final year of a contract he signed with the club in July 2010.

But at the team's annual locker-cleanout day following their first-round playoff loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Bell expressed doubts that he had any future with the Jazz franchise. He called head coach Tyrone Corbin "unprofessional" for the way he had communicated with Bell regarding his playing status with the team and said the damage between the two was "irreparable."

Bell battled a knee injury for much of last season, when he averaged 6.4 points and 1.4 rebounds a game, but he played in just 34 of the team's 66 regular-season games and saw action in only one game after mid-March. He was sent home from a road trip earlier that month following a postgame verbal spat with Corbin.

Although pronouncing himself ready to play, Bell was the only healthy Jazz player who did not see action in the team's four-game postseason sweep at the hands of the Spurs.

Bell has averaged 9.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game over his 12-year NBA career, which included a previous two-season stint with the Jazz from 2003-05.

According to reports by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Bell is interested in returning to Florida, where he played high school and college basketball (Florida International), to play for the Heat, who captured the NBA championship in June.

There may also still be some interest in the free agent guard in Los Angeles, where the Lakers and Kobe Bryant made a strong pitch to try and sign Bell two years ago before he chose to come to Utah for less money instead.

Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor was unavailable for comment.

email: rhollis@desnews.com

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