Utah Jazz: Jimmer's former mate, Erik Murphy, joins Jazz for final week
SALT LAKE CITY — It’s not often a player joins a team with just a week left in the regular season, unless that team is fighting for a playoff berth.
That doesn’t describe the Utah Jazz, who are finishing up one of their worst seasons in franchise history. But the Jazz have added a new player in Erik Murphy, a 6-foot-10, 230-pound forward who played for the Chicago Bulls all season before being waived last week.
Murphy flew into Salt Lake Sunday afternoon and showed up for his first practice with the Jazz Monday morning at the Zions Bank Basketball Center.
“It’s a stressful couple of days, wondering what your next move is and trying to figure out what’s going to happen,’’ said Murphy. “But I’m excited to be here, grateful for the opportunity with the Jazz. I’m ready to work right now.’’
Murphy played for the University of Florida for four years and was a first-team All-SEC selection as a senior before being drafted by the Bulls in the second round with the 49th overall pick.
He saw little action for the Bulls this year, only scoring six points and getting eight rebounds all year after playing just 61 minutes in 24 games.
“He’s a young guy, a big guy, who can shoot the ball. He works hard, comes from a good basketball background at Florida,’’ said Utah coach Tyrone Corbin. “We’ll get him on the floor and see how he can mesh with these guys.’’
Corbin acknowledges it will be hard to see much out of Murphy “at this juncture,’’ with just five games left in the regular season.
“It’s late — we have his rights through the summer and we’ll see how things work out for the rest of the year,’’ Corbin said.
“Obviously there’s not very much left in the season, but I’ll just work hard every day and try to fit in with the guys and get acclimated here,’’ Murphy said.
Murphy coming to Utah is a win-win for the Bulls and the Jazz. Because the Jazz claimed Murphy off waivers, the Bulls aren’t likely to have to pay a luxury tax this year, while the Jazz only have to pay Murphy his remaining $34,601 in salary this year. If they like him, they have rights to him for next year, and if they waive him before Aug. 1 they won’t have to take a salary cap hit for next year.
JIMMER’S MATE: Murphy said he knew virtually nothing about Utah, having come into town on the second half of a back-to-back earlier this season and not seeing much of Salt Lake City.
However, he was a teammate of former BYU star Jimmer Fredette, who joined the Bulls in early March. He said they talked about the two NCAA meetings between BYU and Florida in 2010 and 2011
“We got to know each other when he came to Chicago for that short period of time,’’ Murphy said. “We talked about his college days a little bit, because we played them in the tournament a couple of times when he was there at BYU. He’s a really good guy and he didn’t tell me much about Utah, but knowing him I’m sure he would rave about it.’’
BYE-BYE BIEDRINS: With the addition of Murphy, the Jazz said goodbye to Andris Biedrins, who joined the team last summer in a trade with Golden State.
Biedrins, who had a $9 million salary, ended up playing less time than Murphy did in Chicago, getting just 45 minutes in six games with the Jazz and scoring just three total points. He hasn’t played a minute since Dec. 16 in Miami.
Corbin said there was no playing time for the 27-year-old Biedrins because the Jazz wanted to give their young players, Derrick Favors, Enes Kantor and Rudy Gobert, experience.
“It’s just where we are with Derrick and Enes and we have Rudy,’’ Corbin said. “Early on he was a veteran guy, but our mission all along was to develop the young guys. He was a great guy to have on the team, great about the situation he was in. He was ready. He came in with an open mind, in great shape, and we just didn’t get an opportunity to get him on the floor.’’
JAZZ NOTES: Marvin Williams, who has missed 11 games this year with a variety of ailments, is a game-time decision for Tuesday’s game with Dallas with an inflammation of his right knee. ... After Tuesday’s game, the Jazz play at home Friday against Portland, Saturday at Denver, Monday at home against the Lakers and finish up at Minnesota Wednesday.
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