Ten veteran players will be back in Jazz uniforms for the 1990-91 season, eight of whom have never worn uniforms for any other NBA team. Only Mike Brown, who played two seasons in Chicago, and newly-acquired Jeff Malone, who played seven season in Washington, have played elsewhere than Utah.
Here's a look at the veterans, in alphabetical order:- Thurl Bailey, 6-foot-11, 232 pounds.
The Jazz's proven Sixth Man - a role he'd held for five-plus seasons - became a starter halfway through last season and played his best basketball of the campaign. For the season he averaged 14.2 points and 5.0 rebounds; as a starter he averaged 15.7 points and 5.3 rebounds. He was the team's third leading scorer and rebounder and was second behind Mark Eaton in blocks (1.2 per game). In the playoffs, Bailey hit a higher level, averaging 21 points and 6.4 boards. In his seven year career, Bailey has been uncannily consistent, never averaging less than 5.0 rebounds and double-figure scoring (with the exception of his rookie year, when he averaged 8.5 points per game). He has played in every game the past three seasons, and has missed only four games in his seven year career.
- Mike Brown, 6-foot-9, 260 pounds.
After coming through with easily the best season of his four-year NBA career, Mike Brown could become even more of a Jazz presence in 1990-91. He averaged 6.2 points and 4.5 rebounds in just 17 minutes a game last year as he spelled off both Karl Malone at forward and Mark Eaton at center. By hitting at a 78.9 percent clip from the free throw line, Brown emerged as the Jazz's second best free thrower.
- Mark Eaton, 7-foot-4, 290 pounds.
The eight-year veteran from UCLA comes into the season needing 598 blocked shots to move past Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the top shot-blocker in NBA history. Abdul-Jabbar finished his 20-year career with 3,189 blocks. Eaton's at 2,592 after eight years. In two years the record should be his. His blocks were down last season (2.5 a game, compared to a career average of 4.0) but so were his minutes, the least since his second year with the Jazz. Still, he shot over .500 from the field for the first time ever (.527 for the season) and led the Jazz in rebounding 23 times and had 25 games of 10-plus rebounds.
- Theodore "Blue" Edwards, 6-foot-5, 200 pounds.
After being selected in the first round of the 1989 summer draft by the Jazz (21st player overall), Edwards proceeded to produce All-Rookie stats. He scored 8.9 points and 3.1 rebounds a game and was named to the postseason All-Rookie second team. His dunks-of-authority caught the attention of the league, which invited the first year player to compete in the All-Star Weekend dunk contest. Edwards declined because of an injury. He played in every game of the 1990-91 season and started the first 49 games before becoming the sixth man in a switch of roles with Thurl Bailey.
- Darrell Griffith, 6-foot-4, 195 pounds.
A free agent at the conclusion of the 1990-91 season, Griffith's fears of having to play elsewhere in the NBA were dashed when the Jazz signed him to a new contract. A Jazzman since being selected No. 2 overall by Utah in the 1980 college draft, Griffith completed his ninth season (he didn't play in 1985-86 because of injury) in style, even if he was reduced to reserve status. He played less minutes than anytime during his career (17 a game) and still responded with 8.9 points per contest to place fourth on the team. He had double-figure efforts 37 times. He got stronger as the season wore on, scoring in double figures in 12 of the last 16 games of the season.
- Eric Johnson, 6-foot-2, 205 pounds.
A longshot to make the team, Johnson made it anyway last season and saw action in 48 games. Two times he started, when John Stockton was injured. The product of Nebraska whose brother, Vinnie, of the Detroit Pistons, started the family NBA tradition, averaged 1.1 points and 1.3 assists and gained valuable playing time.
- Jeff Malone, 6-foot-4, 205 pounds.
Playing for the Washington Bullets last season, Malone scored 24.3 points a game, the highest of his seven-year NBA career and No. 9 on the 1990-91 NBA list. He came to the Jazz in a summer trade and figures to become the starter at shooting guard in place of Bobby Hansen, who is now with Sacramento. Twice an All-Star in the East (1986 and 1987), Malone has averaged over 20 points a game for five straight seasons and has a career scoring average of 20.2. An excellent free throw shooter, he left Washington as the franchise's alltime best in free throw percentage, at 86.9 percent.
- Karl Malone, 6-foot-9, 256 pounds.
The Mailman got nothing but better in 1990-91 in his fifth NBA season. He averaged 31 points and 11.1 rebounds a game, ranking second and fifth in the NBA in those categories, respectively. His field goal percentage of .562 was the league's fourth best. He was the NBA Player of the Week twice and was the January Player of the Month. His 61 points against Milwaukee on Jan. 27 represented a career high and was the 33rd best single-game performance in NBA history. Malone made the All-NBA first team for the second straight season and was named to the All-Star Game for the third straight year, although he had to sit that game out because of an ankle injury.
- Delaney Rudd, 6-foot-2, 195 pounds.
As John Stockton's backup, Rudd played in 77 games, including 73 in a row, and averaged 3.5 points and 2.3 assists. In the fourth playoff game against Phoenix he had a particularly good outing, helping the Jazz stay alive for the fifth game. When Stockton was injured in February, Rudd scored 31 points in two games.
- John Stockton, 6-foot-1, 175 pounds.
Stockton's sixth Jazz season saw him score a career-high 17.1 points per game as well as establish yet another NBA record for assists with 1,134 for the season (six better than his old mark of 1,128 set two seasons previous). He led the NBA in assists per game (14.5), was second in the league in steals (2.65 per game) and eighth in three-point field goal percentage (47 of 113, .416).