In the latest installment of The Unhappy Jazzmen, center Mel Turpin says he's headed to the Washington Bullets.
Turpin told an Illinois newspaper Tuesday that he's being traded to the Bullets. Jazz president-general manager David Checketts says there is no trade, but Turpin is apparently planning to sign with Washington as a free agent."I think this is a turning point in my career," Turpin said. "I'll get more (playing) time. I'll get more money. And I won't miss Frank Layden."
With Kelly Tripucka and Rickey Green now in Charlotte, the departure of Turpin would clear out all three Jazz veterans who were buried on the bench during the playoffs. Layden and Turpin traded insults via the media during the Jazz-Lakers playoff series and Layden later described him as "history" in the team's plans.
Turpin actually has two years left on his contract, but the complex deal he originally signed with Cleveland gives both Turpin and the Jazz some options. The Jazz's decision to spread out the next two seasons' payments over several years gives Turpin the choice to become a free agent. Thursday is his deadline for that option, and the Bullets are evidently ready with an offer.
The Jazz would receive compensation from Washington, possibly more than the second-round draft choice most teams have offered in trades.
Turpin, 27, came to the Jazz last October with Darryl Dawkins in the three-team, seven-player trade that sent Kent Benson and Dell Curry to Cleveland. Trying to overcome weight problems, Turpin averaged 5.9 points but had his playing time drastically reduced during the season. If Turpin leaves, candidates for the Jazz's backup-center job will be first-round draft choice Eric Leckner of Wyoming and Mike Brown, who came to the Jazz last month from Chicago via Charlotte in the Tripucka trade.