Utah Jazz: California transplants hope to find steady roles in Utah
Biedrins is young enough (27 years old) that he still has time to re-establish himself as a presence in the paint despite the tailspin he’s been in the past few years. Rush has proved to be a reliable 3-point shooter and defender. And Jefferson is hoping his improved health and fresh start will push him back into NBA relevance.
Even if they don’t provide any substantial contributions on the court, the three players’ contracts are helping the Jazz. With all of its likely starters on rookie contracts and the bigger salaries of Al Jefferson, Mo Williams and Paul Millsap in the past, Utah needed to increase its financial output to meet minimum requirements for the payroll. That certainly happened. Jefferson is the highest-paid Jazz player this year with an $11 million salary, while Biedrins is set to bring in $9 million and Rush $4 million. Trading for three guys in the last year of their contracts also gives the Jazz flexibility in the 2014 offseason to structure extensions, sign different free agents and/or broker more deals in an effort to make the franchise a “championship contender,” to use the front office’s oft-repeated optimistic phrase.
The ex-Warriors and Jazz coaching staff, however, are hoping to make themselves much more useful than just being contract pawns in this rebuilding chess game.
Corbin sounds like he’s more than willing to give them that chance, too. He credited Richard Jefferson for coming to camp in great shape, going hard in drills and “being the true pro that he is.”
“I’m just looking to contribute in any way,” Jefferson said. “Hopefully, it’s on the court. If not, it’s going to be mentoring some guys, whether it’s Gordon (Hayward), whether it’s Alec, whoever it is. I just want to contribute.”
Same goes for Biedrins, whom Corbin said “has been great” early on in training sessions and in unofficial workouts leading up to camp.
Both incoming veterans are very complimentary of the younger guys in their positions, and they believe they can be productive players with consistent minutes.
“Whatever coach will give me opportunity, I’ll do my best and give my 100 percent. If it’s going to be 10 minutes or five or 15, I’ll accept any role he has for me,” Biedrins said. “I still need to work a lot to get my confidence back, but it’s a good start. It’s a fresh start. It’s been great.”
Imagine how excited he’ll be when the snow arrives for good.
Just don’t mention that part about Utah winters to Rush. Especially if he’s in Hawaii.
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