Utah Jazz: Rookie Kevin Murphy makes long journey from D-League back to the NBA
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kevin Murphy admitted he'd been through "a little whirlwind" getting back to the NBA from the D-League.
And that was just the travel he was talking about.
After being called up by the Utah Jazz from his D-League assignment, Murphy flew out of Reno at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. From there, he went to Salt Lake City for Layover No. 1. His next stop was in Atlanta after a red-eye flight.
Continuing his zigzagging travels, he finished off his cross-country journey to reunite with his NBA team by taking one last commuter flight to North Carolina.
The rookie shooting guard even made it in time to participate in his first shootaround with the Jazz since the end of November.
"I'm going to take me a nap after shootaround, get rejuvenated and I'll be all right," he said Wednesday morning. "I'm just glad to be back up."
Murphy, who averaged 13.1 points with the Reno Bighorns since Nov. 28, was also happy to be told his contract with the Jazz will be guaranteed through the rest of the season. The deadline for contracts becoming guaranteed is Thursday.
Murphy's call-up was made necessary because the Jazz were left with only 11 healthy players in the wake of Mo Williams' thumb surgery and Marvin Williams' ongoing issues with right knee inflammation.
"First of all, we're happy to have him back," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "I thought that he did a great job in Reno, growing his game, getting an opportunity to play on the floor, paying attention to the things that we talked to him about getting better at."
Murphy said he learned to treat the game as a business during his 14-game D-League assignment with Reno.
"I'm just trying to be a complete player, play hard, hustle on both ends of the floor, be a team guy, be like a glue guy for the guys down there," he said. "(Jazz GM) Dennis (Lindsey) told me he didn't want to just go down there just to be a scorer, because they know I can score. They wanted to see what else I could do, and I think I did a good job of that."
Corbin made Murphy's return worth it. The Tennessee Tech product was put in at the end of the 112-102 Jazz blowout over the Bobcats. He went scoreless but played for almost three minutes.
"It was a great surprise," said Murphy, who hadn't played an NBA game since Nov. 19 against Houston.
Murphy said he was welcomed back by the team with open arms. Almost on cue, seventh-year veteran Randy Foye approached Murphy moments later after shootaround.
"Hey, Rook!" Foye said.
The starting Jazz guard then handed his just-used basketball shoes to the rookie to carry to the team bus.
Murphy happily obliged.
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