Utah Jazz: Jazz cut Mike Harris, keep Diante Garrett and Ian Clark
Matt Gade, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — At Monday’s practice, Mike Harris said he was going to take advantage of his time with the Utah Jazz as long as it lasted.
“I’m just excited while I’m here,” Harris said. “I’m enjoying the moment, and whatever happens, happens.”
Less than 24 hours later, the 30-year-old NBA journeyman was informed that his time with the Jazz had come to an end.
Tuesday was the deadline to cut players on nonguaranteed contracts before those deals become fully guaranteed for the season, so the Jazz opted to whittle their maxed-out roster to 14 players.
That left Harris looking for a new gig, while point guard Diante Garrett and shooting guard Ian Clark survived the cut.
“To his credit, he did everything we asked him to do,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “Great locker room guy, great teammate for the guys. It’s just unfortunate it’s part of the business that we had to make a decision.”
Harris, who’s played for three NBA teams in his career, ended up making a pro-rated portion of his $850,000 salary for his three-plus months of work with Utah.
The 6-foot-6 forward averaged 4.2 points and 1.7 rebounds in 20 games this season.
Harris was a popular player among his teammates.
“I talked to him briefly, wished him the best. That’s a part of this league. He understands,” Jazz small forward Richard Jefferson said. “He was a good teammate, a great teammate actually. You’re sad to see him go, but you wish him the best.”
Jazz center Enes Kanter credited Harris for bringing “a lot of energy” to the team and for helping him when he came to the bench.
“It’s a business, but seeing my teammates leaving like this, it’s tough,” Kanter said. “I’m just going to pray for him.”
Garrett spelled starting point guard Trey Burke in Tuesday's game against Oklahoma City. Clark continued his D-League assignment with Jazz center Rudy Gobert for the Bakersfield Jam, scoring 23 points in a loss to Iowa.
NO RELIEF: Jefferson’s name came up in the rumor mill this past week as Cleveland looked for trading partners in an effort to get rid of center Andrew Bynum.
Late Monday night, the Cavaliers and Bulls ended up doing a swap, which resulted in Cleveland picking up All-Star small forward Luol Deng and sending the Bulls draft picks and Bynum.
Jefferson wasn’t fazed by the trade talks nor was he glad to have the rumor behind him.
“I’m indifferent. I have a job to do. When you get to this point at this age, you focus on your job. Wherever I am. Wherever opportunity arises,” Jefferson said. “There wasn’t any emotion when I got traded to Utah. There wasn’t any emotion when I got traded to Golden State.”
And, he added, that won’t change if he does get traded before the Feb. 20 deadline.
“There will be no emotions,” Jefferson said. “My job is to try and help whichever team I’m on win games. So relief? That would imply that I was concerned.”
NAME GAME: Some NBA teams will have players’ nicknames on the back of their jerseys for a game, leading Jazz players to be asked what they’d put on their uniform tops.
“I would say TB3 if it’s allowable,” Jazz rookie Burke said. “A lot of people call me TB. A lot of my friends call me TB.”
“Probably just D-Fav. Something simple,” Jazz center Derrick Favors said. “I don’t have any nicknames.”
Forward Jeremy Evans can’t say the same thing. He gets called multiple names by teammates.
“We call him ‘Snoop Doop,’ so he’s probably got the best one,” Favors said, laughing. “He’s Snoop Doop, man.”
Burke smiled and said Jazz players have another fitting name for their teammate who won the 2012 NBA Slam Dunk contest.
“We all call him ‘Dunk Champ,’ so I think that’s the best one,” Burke said. “If you see that on the back of a jersey it might intimidate somebody.”
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