Utah Jazz: Travis Leslie — and his mom — are excited for another NBA opportunity
Jody Genessy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — There was no doubt in Travis Leslie's mind about what person would receive the first phone call from him when he found out that the Utah Jazz were giving him another shot at the NBA.
"My mom," he said, smiling. "Definitely."
You can imagine the reaction that Leslie's mom, Virginia, had in Atlanta when hearing her 22-year-old son, whose previous NBA stint only lasted 10 games, tell her that he was being called up from the D-League to join the Jazz on a 10-day contract.
"She was beyond happy. I can't even explain it," Leslie said. "She was screaming. She was very excited. Hopefully, if I stay here long enough, she can come out here soon."
Leslie's reaction was similar when his agent and then coach broke the news Friday. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound guard has excelled and developed enough while with the Santa Cruz Warriors this season that the Jazz decided to give him a shot at a roster spot.
Utah waived disgruntled guard Raja Bell on Sunday to create an opening for Leslie, the D-League's All-Star Game MVP.
Leslie participated with the Jazz for the first time Monday morning at the team's shootaround session.
"I was excited," Leslie said. "Great opportunity to come out here and show what I can do. I'm just going to go out there and do whatever they need me to do."
Because of health issues, Leslie even got to wear his No. 23 Jazz uniform for the first time against the Pistons at EnergySolutions Arena.
Leslie's 10-day clock started Sunday, but Monday was his first leap into the Jazz practice pool with the whole squad.
"It was nice. I got a good sweat in," Leslie said. "They're just trying to get me comfortable with the system, going over the plays, getting some good shots up."
Though this is a new situation, Leslie isn't coming in as a stranger.
Leslie, the 47th pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, knows Mo Williams and Randy Foye from playing 10 games with the Los Angeles Clippers last season. He became offseason friends with DeMarre Carroll, and the Georgia native is a longtime acquaintance of Atlanta guys Derrick Favors and Kevin Murphy.
"It helps a lot if you're familiar with the guys," Corbin said. "They know you. They kind of know your game."
Favors said he won't hold it against Leslie that his high school team beat the third-year power forward's by about 30 points — or the fact that his Georgia Tech squad was beaten by the new Jazzman's Georgia team when they played. Leslie teased Favors and Murphy about his prep team's success against theirs.
"It's all good," Favors said, smiling.
Favors enjoyed catching up and said he likes Leslie's game.
"He's athletic," Favors said. "He can really get up dunking and make plays."
Williams joked that he was going to make Leslie bring doughnuts to practice as a continuation of his rookie responsibilities from last year in L.A.
"He was my rook last year," the Jazz point guard said, "so I took pretty good care of him, I hope."
Williams is happy to see a former teammate get a second chance.
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