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Utah Jazz: Jazz may not necessarily bring in a sharp-shooter

Published: Friday, July 31 2015 10:17 a.m. MDT

Ronnie Brewer could be in line for a return to Utah if the Jazz decide not to match an offer for Wesley Matthews. (T.j. Kirkpatrick, Deseret News) Ronnie Brewer could be in line for a return to Utah if the Jazz decide not to match an offer for Wesley Matthews. (T.j. Kirkpatrick, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Though they must soon make a decision regarding help on the wing, the Jazz don't necessarily feel compelled to add a sharpshooter to their roster.

So suggested Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor on Tuesday night.

His reasoning: "I think C.J. has improved so much at the shooting end of it," O'Connor said of swingman C.J. Miles, "and I think (first-round draft choice Gordon) Hayward can stretch a defense too, because you've got to guard him on the 3-point line."

If they opt against matching the five-year, frontloaded, $32.5 million offer sheet that starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews signed with Portland last Saturday, then, it's very possible Utah will consider going with a defensive-minded perimeter over a long-distance specialist.

Ronnie Brewer could be in line for a return to Utah if the Jazz decide not to match an offer for Wesley Matthews. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News) Ronnie Brewer could be in line for a return to Utah if the Jazz decide not to match an offer for Wesley Matthews. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News)

"It would be nice if you can incorporate both (with the same player,)" O'Connor said, "but I don't know if you can or not."

It's with that in mind that the Jazz are seriously considering bringing back Ronnie Brewer, their starting shooting guard before they traded him to Memphis last February.

"We're talking to him," O'Connor said Tuesday. "We're talking to a lot of people."

The notion of a Brewer return to Utah isn't nearly as farfetched as it might have seemed a few short weeks ago.

"The Jazz definitely are interested in Ronnie Brewer," agent Henry Thomas said through a representative, "but it's going to depend on whether they match on Wesley Matthews."

The Jazz have until Monday to decide on Matthews, who took over as their starting shooting guard when Utah dealt Brewer.

For the longest time, it seemed quite likely that the University of Arkansas product — the Jazz's first-round lottery pick in 2006 — would remain with the Grizzlies.

But in June Memphis decided against extending a qualifying offer to Brewer, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Memphis didn't immediately rule out signing him anyway.

But after starter Rudy Gay agreed to remain with the Grizzlies, and Memphis subsequently added defense-minded Boston Celtics swingman Tony Allen as well, Brewer remains on the open market.

Chicago and Cleveland apparently have interest as well, but Chicago probably would be eliminated as a potential destination if Orlando doesn't match an offer sheet shooting guard J.J. Redick signed with the Bulls.

Brewer isn't the only shooting guard/swingman the Jazz are considering if they opt against matching on Matthews — a move that would put them $5.7 million over the NBA's team payroll luxury tax threshold of $70,307,000 for next season.

Others include Los Angeles Lakers free agent guard Shannon Brown, in whom the Jazz have also shown serious interest, and Roger Mason, the ex-San Antonio Spurs swingman.

Also on the market: Matt Barnes (last with Orlando), Eddie House (New York), Rasual Butler (Los Angeles Clippers) and Ime Udoka (Sacramento).

Agent Mark Bartelstein — whose clients include Brown, Mason and House — is expected to talk today with O'Connor.

Portland also was considering Mason before deciding to instead extend an offer sheet to Matthews, whose deal calls for more than $9 million to be paid seven days after it's approved by the NBA, including a $5.7 million signing bonus whose salary cap hit is spread over the length of the contract.

HIGH ON MATTHEWS: The Trail Blazers very much hope Utah doesn't match on Matthews.

According to The Oregonian, Blazers coach Nate McMillan sees him fitting nicely into the Blazers rotation at shooting guard and small forward should the Jazz let Matthews go.

"He'll be a wing defender," McMillan, who lauded Matthews for his "scrappiness," told the paper.

"I looked at some tape of him in the playoffs. He had the assignment of guarding Carmelo (Anthony) and Kobe (Bryant). You don't stop those guys, but I think that says a lot about him when Coach (Jerry) Sloan feels ... he's strong enough to take that challenge."

NOT NOW: O'Connor on Tuesday declined to discuss how Utah's trade for Minnesota big man Al Jefferson would impact its decision on Matthews, deferring instead to the decision's deadline day.

"We'll talk about that on Monday," the Jazz GM said.

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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