SALT LAKE CITY — Kevin Murphy was assigned to the D-League by the Utah Jazz, but he certainly wasn't just shipped off to fend for himself with the Reno Bighorns.
The 2012 second-round pick was escorted to his temporary team by Utah's director of basketball operations, Richard Smith, and he'll be evaluated in practice and games by more Jazz personnel, including general manager Dennis Lindsey and head scout David Fredman.
Utah wants this to be a moving-forward experience for their No. 47 pick out of Tennessee Tech. Lindsey said the Jazz are hoping Murphy will work on a variety of things while he's in the D-League for the next couple of weeks or so.
The GM listed several items, including a desire for him "to really focus defensively," to be a good teammate, to be "very appreciative of being in professional basketball," and to not try to light up the scoreboard with offensive numbers.
"We don't want him to be a pig scorer," Lindsey said, " ... We want him to play basketball the right way, meaning score when he needs to score, pass when he needs to pass. Really, our evaluation of him is not going to be, 'You go score 40 points and we're bringing you back to the Jazz.'"
Murphy has to earn his playing time with Reno. The NBA team isn't about to insist that Bighorns coach Paul Mokeski give the 6-6 guard preferential treatment on a team that includes Jazz camp participant Darnell Jackson and the son of Rocket great Ralph Sampson.
"If his role is 40 seconds, it needs to be professional and thankful. If it's 40 minutes, the same thing," Lindsey said. "We're not going to go tell the Reno program that you've got to play Kevin X-amount of minutes with this role and this amount of shots. That doesn't happen here."
Added Lindsey: "Kevin needs to earn those things even in the D-League. We want him to be very professional with his approach to the coaching staff. ... How he approaches coaches and teammates is very important."
Lindsey called Murphy's D-League move "an open-ended assignment." Reno's next game is this Friday against the recently relocated Santa Cruz Warriors — formerly the Dakota Wizards.
"We will evaluate it after the first five games and then make a determination after that point," Lindsey said.
The NBA and D-League recently came to an agreement to stream games live on YouTube, so Jazz fans will have an opportunity to watch Murphy in action via computer.
The Jazz are certainly curious to see how the 22-year-old responds.
"I think it will help him a ton," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "He's getting a chance to play on the floor."
Like Lindsey, Corbin emphasized that the Jazz aren't looking to see Murphy light up the scoreboard.
The Jazz coach told Murphy, "We don't want you to just go and look for points. We want you to play on both ends of the floor, (do) the things we talked about you doing to get better to help you get more prepared for when you come back to us."
INJURY UPDATE: Starting point guard Mo Williams said his moderately sprained right forefoot is doing "a lot better," but he missed his second straight game because of the injury.
Williams hasn't attempted to run on his foot yet — and he's still sporting a walking boot — but he's hoping to be back in action when the Jazz kick off their three-game road trip in New Orleans.
"We're shooting for Wednesday," said Williams, adding that he still feels soreness when he tries to twist and turn his foot.
STILL WAITING: Shooting guard Alec Burks will not be sent down to the D-League, Lindsey confirmed. But the second-year player hasn't been able to crack into the rotation yet, either.
Burks is only averaging 7.8 minutes an outing after seeing 15.9 minutes a night his rookie season. He's already missed more games due to coach's decision this season (nine) compared to the entire 66-game lockout-shortened campaign (seven).Comment on this story
"He should be frustrated. I'm a little frustrated I haven't had an opportunity to get him on the floor," Corbin said. "He deserves to play, and I've got to find ways to let him get on. It's difficult to get him quality minutes."
With Randy Foye and Gordon Hayward sharing the bulk of the shooting guard time, Burks has been the odd man left out.
"I told the guys before, 'I don’t want to just give you a minute or two just to get you on the floor and pull you out,'" he said. "'I want to be able to give you minutes where you can do something with them.' He's been great about it thus far."
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