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Utah Jazz: Memphis is interested in Brewer, report says

Published: Friday, Jan. 22 2010 12:16 a.m. MST

Utah Jazz guard Ronnie Brewer keeps the ball in bounds against the Milwaukee Bucks during a game at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City Saturday. The Jazz won 112-95. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News) Utah Jazz guard Ronnie Brewer keeps the ball in bounds against the Milwaukee Bucks during a game at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City Saturday. The Jazz won 112-95. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Fresh off a win Wednesday night at San Antonio, and at the tail end of a stretch with victories in five of their last six outings, a trade rumor is dogging the Jazz.

At the center of evident talks: starting shooting guard Ronnie Brewer and at least one first-round draft pick.

General manager Kevin O'Connor had no comment Thursday regarding a newspaper report revealing that Memphis and Utah have discussed a potential trade that would send defense-minded swingman Brewer to the Grizzlies.

According to The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal and well-sourced beat writer Ron Tillery, the bid for Brewer "is the latest development in the Grizzlies' quest to improve their bench."

Memphis is known to have initiated the talks, which — while no agreement appears imminent — evidently remain alive.

Utah — which sent rookie point guard Eric Maynor and injured forward Matt Harpring's expiring contract to Oklahoma City last month as part of a cost-cutting deal that will save the Jazz more than $10 million — has not ruled out making additional deals prior to the NBA's Feb. 18 trade deadline.

That includes potential swaps involving not only Brewer, but also others, including two-time NBA All-Star power forward Carlos Boozer.

The Grizzlies are known, too, to be talking with multiple teams regarding possible trade and player-acquisition scenarios, including one that would send Dorell Wright from Miami to Memphis and another involving the possible signing of free agent Von Wafer.

The Commercial Appeal reported that Utah and Memphis "have mainly talked about which future first-round pick the Jazz would receive in return for Brewer," and "it is not known whether other players are involved."

According to the newspaper, "Memphis is not willing to part with its own 2010 pick. The Griz have made available their late first-round selections (via Denver and the Los Angeles Lakers) for the right deal. The Jazz may also be seeking a 2011 pick."

Memphis has enough team payroll salary space to absorb Brewer's salary for this season of $2,717,161 without taking any salary back from Utah in return.

Such a deal would leave the Jazz about $2.1 million shy of getting under the NBA's payroll luxury-tax threshold of $69.92 million.

O'Connor, the Jazz GM, is on record earlier this month as saying the franchise is not committed to getting under the threshold "at all cost."

But getting under the tax line would allow Utah to avoid a dollar-for-dollar penalty for exceeding it, and — should they be able to get under it by season's end — reportedly would also allow the Jazz to receive a $4.5 million rebate payout in July.

The Jazz and Brewer, a product of the University of Arkansas, were unable to reach agreement on a contract extension last season.

Brewer will be a restricted free agent this offseason, meaning which team that holds his rights and tenders a $3.7 million qualifying offer could match whatever offer sheet he is able to secure in the NBA's summer shopping market.

If he were to go to Memphis, Brewer likely would be buried behind swingmen Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo on the Grizzlies' roster.

Brewer — who had four points on 2-for-8 field shooting in 34 minutes against the Spurs on Wednesday — is averaging 9.9 points this season, down from a career-best 13.7 per game last season.

The fourth-year pro is also shooting 49.4 percent while averaging 32.7 minutes, 3.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.8 steals per game.

He's started all of the Jazz's 42 games this season, and all but one of the 157 games in which he played the previous two seasons.

Brewer's agent, Henry Thomas, was out of his Chicago office Thursday and did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the trade rumor.

Contributing: Jody Genessy

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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