SALT LAKE CITY — From one former D-Leaguer to another, Sundiata Gaines teasingly warned Othyus Jeffers that he has some surprises coming his way on the Utah Jazz's upcoming road trip.
Honestly, Jeffers might not care.
The 6-foot-5 shooting guard, who joined the team earlier this month as a replacement for traded-away Ronnie Brewer, is just elated to be heading out of town with the Jazz.
The fact he's traveling with the team to Toronto Tuesday is significant. It means he'll remain with the NBA club he rooted against as a Chicago Bulls fan as a kid.
After Utah's 110-97 win over Boston, Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor announced that the franchise will sign Jeffers to a contract for the remainder of the season.
Jeffers, whose second 10-day contract expired Monday, was taken by surprise when reporters mentioned that to him in the locker room.
"I'm very happy," he said with a huge smile, adding that it was news to him. "I guess I did enough to please them and get me to stay. I'll see where I go from here."
For now, he'll happily go wherever the Jazz do.
"We like his attitude," O'Connor said. "We like how he works."
Though he hasn't had much game or practice time to showcase his skills, Jeffers said he's tried to heed the advice of coaches and fellow teammates.
The Jazz have an option on Jeffers for next season as well, though it's not known how much, if any, of his salary beyond this season is guaranteed.
"We don't know," O'Connor said, "if he's good enough so we want him to prove to us that he can play. He's proven to us what kind of guy he is. He's proven to us he'll work. Now the next thing is, 'Prove to us how you can play.'"
Jeffers, a former Iowa Energy player who brought averages of 3.2 points and 1.3 rebounds into Monday's contest, said he's excited to be with the team for the postseason push.
"That's what I'm ready to feel, some Jazz playoff(s)," he said. "I used to watch it a lot on TV, now it's time to feel it first-hand."
"I'm happy for him," Gaines added. "He worked hard and he deserved it."
Ex-Utah big man Mikki Moore, who underwent heel surgery in December, remains a possibility should the Jazz decide to sign a veteran to their 14th roster spot.
OUT OF ACTION: Jokingly asked in the morning if he planned on another 43-minute performance Monday night, Kyrylo Fesenko had a quick-witted response.
"I'll go for 49," he joked.
Turns out, Fesenko went for zero against Boston. Two nights after setting a career-high for playing time, the 7-1 center couldn't play because of the stomach flu.
Utah also went without usual starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko, who was sidelined for the fifth time in six games with a strained left calf.
"It's getting better," said Kirilenko, who's eyeing a return Wednesday in Toronto.
BACK IN THE BIGS: Jazz brass liked Kosta Koufos getting action in the D-League, but they recalled the second-year center from the Utah Flash because injuries and illness have left the parent club short on bigs.
"We want to make sure we have enough bodies," Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said.
Koufos averaged 20.2 points and 10.5 rebounds in this four-game Flash assignment. He returned to Salt Lake City on Sunday — missing a Flash game — to work out with a visiting specialist from the Santa Barbara training facility he frequented last summer.
Koufos didn't have to wait long to get significant NBA action. He played 13 minutes in the first half and logged 14 minutes overall, scoring four points with three boards.
He admitted his NBA return was "definitely" exciting.
"I just came in the game just being mentally prepared if (Sloan) did put me in so I'd be ready," Koufos said. "And I'm like that every day. Most importantly we came out with a victory against a good team with the Boston Celtics."
CASE CLOSED: Jerry Sloan didn't want to elaborate on the NBA's decision to not punish him for making what the league deemed to be "incidental" contact with referee Michael Smith in Friday's game at Phoenix.
"I don't want to comment on that," the Jazz coach said, "just go on forward and go about our business. That's behind us."
Contributing: Tim Buckley
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