Jazz pick up option on Fesenko for next season

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 13 2015 1:25 a.m. MDT

Rather than wait until Monday, as previously planned, the Jazz said Friday they've exercised their third-year team option on reserve center Kyrylo Fesenko's rookie contract.

By picking up the $870,000 option for 2009-10, the Jazz will further invest in the 22-year-old size and potential — attributes they apparently feel trump his inconsistent focus and conditioning commitment.

"He improved from his first year to his second year," Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said, "and I think it was a decision based on ... 'Does he have a chance to become a good NBA player?' "We're still not quite sure yet, and we'd like to have one more year with him."

Whether Fesenko actually plays out the year in Utah, though, is unknown.

Stu Lash — a Fesenko representative working with his new agent, Dan Fegan — said Fesenko's camp feels "good" about a decision that "shows they value him."

But Lash suggested that, in an offseason of uncertainty, Utah could trade Fesenko before the 2009-2010 NBA season even begins.

Sacramento has supposed interest.

"It's no secret the Jazz have a lot of things on their table," Lash said, "and this is just another asset they have.

"It's not the main reason, but (possibly using his contract in a deal) is definitely an aspect of why they picked up his option. What's going to happen with some other players is going to affect ... Fes."

Also uncertain: Will Fesenko join the Jazz at next month's Orlando Pro Summer League?

Fesenko indicated in April he'd play for Ukraine's national team this offseason, and Lash said that's still the plan.

The Jazz want him in Orlando first, which he'll have time for, but Lash suggested Fesenko may only want to play internationally this summer.

"That's where his focus is," the rep said. "(But) it's not a closed book."

Fesenko, a 2007 second-round draft choice, played sparingly his first two NBA seasons.

The 7-foot-1, 295-pounder appeared in nine Jazz games as a rookie and averaged 0.7 blocks, 1.8 rebounds, 2.3 points and 7.25 minutes over 21 games this past season — including a career-best 12-point, 11-rebound, three-block December game against Houston and Yao Ming.

Fesenko was inactive for all 12 Jazz 2008 postseason games and didn't play in their only '09 playoff series — something he publicly complained about via social-networking posts.

He also played 37 games as a rookie and 14 in '08-09 for the Jazz's NBA Development League affiliate, but won't be eligible to be sent to the Utah Flash in '09-10 — because it'll be his third NBA season.

Meanwhile, it's unclear how Friday's developments will impact veteran backup center Jarron Collins, who'll be an unrestricted free agent starting late on June 30.

O'Connor said it's "not at all" an either-or situation involving the two.

"You don't know how the whole summer is gonna play out," the Jazz GM said when asked about Collins.

The Jazz now have seven players with guaranteed contracts for next season, not including those with out-out options: Deron Williams, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Miles, Andrei Kirilenko, Matt Harpring, Kosta Koufos and Fesenko.

Starting power forward Carlos Boozer, starting center Mehmet Okur and backup shooting guard Kyle Korver have until June 30 to decide if they'll opt out for next season.

Collins, backup point guard Brevin Knight, reserve guard Ronnie Price and reserve shooting guard Morris Almond will be unrestricted free agents, and backup power forward Paul Millsap is a restricted free agent.

The Jazz have vowed to match any offer sheet Millsap signs with another team, but they don't plan to re-sign Almond.

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