Utah Jazz: It's a long shot, but these Jazz players have hope
SALT LAKE CITY — You've probably never heard of Chris Quinn, Brian Butch and Darnell Jackson. Trey Gilder, perhaps, since he spent a little time in Utah last year.
Those four players are part of the Utah Jazz training camp roster, and their odds of making the team are long, despite what Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin says.
The fact is, the Jazz have 13 players in camp who are under contract and a rookie, Kevin Murphy, who was drafted in the second round last summer.
Yet each of the four free agent players with no guaranteed contract is happy to be in Salt Lake for at least a week or two with the opportunity to make an NBA team.
Three of the four have NBA experience. Quinn, a 6-foot-2 guard out of Notre Dame, has played five years in the league for Miami, New Jersey and San Antonio. Jackson played for Cleveland, Milwaukee and Sacramento in three seasons, while Gilder's career consists of two games with Memphis in 2009-10.
Corbin insists the extra players are more than just practice players for the main guys.
"We brought them in because we like them and we're going to look at them while they're here," he said. "Everybody has a realistic chance of making the team."
"Absolutely. You never know what can happen. It's a long season."
Perhaps the best example of a player making the most of an opportunity is Jazz forward DeMarre Carroll, who joined the team late last year and ended up starting several games down the stretch.
Quinn played in Russia last year after playing the five previous years in the league. He said he had a "great experience" playing for a successful team that made it to the league championship only to lose to a team led by former Jazzman Andrei Kirilenko.
"It's just a great opportunity," said Quinn. "This will be my sixth year in the NBA. I've done it all — I've had guaranteed contracts and I've made the team before on a non-guaranteed contract. I'm just going to compete every day and let the chips fall where they may."
Gilder is a 6-9, 189-pound forward who has mostly played in the D-League after playing college ball at Northwestern State.
Since playing in last year's Jazz training camp ("I know a few good spots to eat," he said), Gilder has worked hard on his game and feels he is stronger and a better overall player.
"I play defense real well, I'm very active in the lanes, I shoot the ball real well — I do a little bit of everything," he said. "I've just got to work hard. As long as you come here and work hard every day, something will work out for you."
The 6-11, 240-pound Butch, who played at Wisconsin, has yet to play in an NBA game despite being signed by both Denver and New Orleans. However both times he got injured and was waived soon after, so he's planning to stay healthy this time with the Jazz.
"I feel good, this is the best my body has ever felt," he said. "My goal is to come in here and make shots and play hard and rebound. Hopefully they'll have to make a tough decision of some sort. I'm ready to work my tail off and see what can happen."
Jackson is a big body (6-9, 253 pounds) who isn't known for his scoring as much as his rebounding and defense. He's played in 138 NBA games and was a starter for the 2008 NCAA championship team at Kansas.
The odds are that you won't be hearing much about Quinn, Butch, Jackson and Gilder after this month. However, for now they are playing for an NBA team, and as coach Corbin says, you never know what might happen.
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