SALT LAKE CITY — One part of the ongoing Raja Bell mystery has been solved.
The veteran shooting guard, who last spring announced his desire to cut ties with the Utah Jazz, will not attend training camp.
That decision came about on a mutual agreement between Bell's camp and the Jazz, according to a prepared statement released late Friday afternoon by general manager Dennis Lindsey.
Lindsey's statement: “I have spoken with Raja and his representative, Herb Rudoy, and we have mutually agreed that although Raja remains under contract, it is in the best interest of all parties that he not rejoin the team next week when the Jazz begins training camp. We will now move forward focusing on Jazz basketball and our preparation for the upcoming season. We will have no further comment on this matter.”
Rudoy could not be immediately reached for comment.
Bell is under contract with the Jazz through the 2012-13 season. The 36-year-old is scheduled to make $3.5 million in the final year of his three-year deal with the Jazz.
A week ago, the longtime Miami resident told Florida radio station 640 Sports that he would be happy to end up with the NBA champion Heat if and/or when Bell and the Jazz can agree upon a contract buyout.
"They would be on the top of my list, for sure," Bell told the Andy Slater Show, according to a South Florida Sun Sentinel report. "Again, hometown crowd, my kids are in elementary school here. It'd be great for me to get a chance to play here in Miami where I grew up and I know a lot of people, and be a part of this history that they're going to make for the city. But that's not always just up to me."
Bell hoped — and believed — to have this issue resolved months ago. The Heat begin their camp on Saturday, while the Jazz open up Tuesday after a media session on Monday.
"We had a buyout in place early in the summer," Bell said in the radio interview. "The Jazz never officially presented it to me. But they never really officially told me I was coming back there, either. So I'm really in a limbo situation right now."
Bell, a 12-year NBA veteran, admitted he would accept a more limited role in the sunset portion of his career.
"At my age and what I've got in my tank, I feel like a limited role is best," Bell said. "I don't really like playing 35 minutes a night anymore."
Last season, Bell started in 33 of the 34 games in which he played for the Jazz. His season was hampered, however, by nagging injuries and ongoing turmoil with Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, who sent Bell home early during an Eastern road trip after a locker room dispute.
"As much as I control what I do, I don't," Bell added in the Sept. 21 interview. "The Jazz hold my rights, they are the owners of the contract. And so if they tell me I'm coming back to camp, then I have to go back to camp."
Or sit out, as agreed upon, and wait for the next move.
With Bell out, the Jazz will have 18 players on their roster to begin training camp, barring future additions.
Bell delivered the verbal bombshell of the Jazz's locker-room cleanout session last May when he declared, "I don't think I have a future with the team."
Bell, who was brought back for a second stint in Utah for his 3-point shooting, defensive prowess and veteran leadership, had grown dissatisfied with his role and his relationship and communication gap with Corbin.
"I just thought that the way I was handled by Ty was unprofessional," Bell said last spring.
After fighting back from a knee injury and multiple groin muscle issues, he didn't play during the playoffs despite feeling well enough to contribute.
"Do I think I could've contributed? I do. I played the Spurs in three playoff series in my career. Big battles with Manu (Ginobili), Tony (Parker), those guys," Bell said. "When you have referees coming up to you asking you why aren't you playing because you can make a difference out there (and) their team asking you why aren't you playing because we really were worried if you were in the scouting report, those things make you wonder."
Bell continued: "But it wasn't my call to make and once I realized after Game 1 when (Corbin) cleared the whole bench and I didn't even touch the court at the end of the game that it was a personal matter, then I didn't care any more."
To that point, Bell also said his relationship with the Jazz had suffered "irreparable damage."
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