CHICAGO — The Utah Jazz will be without starters Raja Bell and Devin Harris when they wrap up their five-game road trip tonight against the Chicago Bulls.
The team announced this afternoon that Bell, the starting shooting guard, will not be with the Jazz for this game because of an unspecified "internal matter."
Harris was just pulled from the lineup due to stomach flu, and Earl Watson will replace him in the first five. Coach Tyrone Corbin refused to give reporters any additional insight into Bell's situation other than to say Bell did not fly with the team from Philadelphia to Chicago and didn't attend the Jazz's morning gameday meeting.
"He's not with us," Corbin said. "Internal matters. That's all I want to say about it."
When asked if it's a one-game deal with Bell, Corbin answered, "Tonight? Yeah." He replied "Yeah, I hope so" when asked if the veteran will be back with the team and available to play at home Monday against Detroit.
Corbin wouldn't say if the internal issue was ongoing or out of the blue, and he doesn't think it will be a distraction for tonight's game against Chicago.
"No, not a distraction I wouldn't expect," Corbin said. "We've got the Bulls and that's enough distraction for everybody."
Al Jefferson and Watson said they hadn't talked to Bell and weren't aware of an internal matter.
After about 10 questions, Corbin finally said, "I don't want to talk about it anymore."
Bell played just under 18 minutes in Utah's 104-91 loss at Philadelphia on Friday night, scoring two points on 1-for-5 shooting.
Bell had started in three straight after missing six consecutive contests due to a groin injury (strained left adductor). Bell scored eight points combined on 4-for-12 shooting in those three road games, including two wins.
Asked if he felt like the rust has been knocked off from the inactivity from that injury absence, Bell responded: "Look, man, I feel fine. My leg feels fine. I just need opportunities, that's it bro."
Bell also voiced his support of rookie Alec Burks, who played the final 10 minutes of the game with Bell on the bench.
"I was hoping that Alec did a good job on (Evan Turner)," Bell said.
Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor and Bell's agent have not been able to be reached for comment to clarify what this internal matter is.
Bell has averaged about 19 minutes in the three games back from his latest adductor issue.
The 35-year-old veteran has one year after this one remaining on his contract with the Jazz. He is averaging 7.1 points and 1.2 assists, although he has emphasized repeatedly this season that his primary responsibility is being defensive nuisance to opposing shooting guards.
The Jazz did not announce who will replace Bell in the starting lineup.
While the veteran was out with his injury, Gordon Hayward started in the shooting guard position and Josh Howard was the small forward starter.
However, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin likes what Hayward adds to the team's important second unit, so it's possible he could keep the second-year player in that reserve role. If that happens, either rookie Alec Burks or seven-year swingman C.J. Miles would be possible starters.
The NBA trade deadline is March 15, leading to rampant Internet speculation that a deal could be impending. But "internal matter" could mean a wide variety of things, and the Jazz public relations staff is not divulging any details.
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