Besides trying to lose Mel Turpin tonight, the Jazz will decide which players they want to keep for training camp in October.
FHP, the Jazz's rookie-free agent team, faces Coors at 7:30 at East High for the Utah Pro-Am Summer League championship. Turpin, brought in just for the occasion, will join Associated Business Products against Seiko-Schubach's (Salt Lake Community College) in the 5 p.m. third-place game.Jazz entrants coached by assistants Jerry Sloan and Scott Layden have won the last two Pro-Am titles, and this team has more talent and less competition than the previous winners. After the game, the Jazz will issue training camp invitations to any or all of six players - center Eric Leckner, forward Marty Embry, off guard Marty Simmons and point guards Billy Donovan, Ricky Grace and Jeff Moe.
All the guards have played well, with Moe averaging a team-high 24 points through three Pro-Am games, and veterans Mike Brown and Scott Roth have also impressed the Jazz. "This is probably the best group of guys we've had, as far as their interest in the game and their enthusiasm," said Sloan. "They seem to be very intent, and they've executed some stuff our veterans can't do sometimes." FHP took a 99-81 win over Coors Thursday to complete round-robin play. Coors features NBA centers Mark Eaton and Danny Schayes, plus ex-Utes Albert Springs and Gale Gondrezick and ex-BYU players Brian Taylor, Tom Gneiting and Devin Durrant.
For Turpin's appearance, the Jazz have invited several NBA scouts in hopes of stirring interest in a trade for the unhappy center. "I hope it works," said president-general manager David Checketts.
"Whether that generates interest or not remains to be seen," said Turpin's agent, ProServ's William Strickland. "I'm disappointed the Jazz have appeared to give up on him, but a trade may be welcomed all the way around." Turpin sightings around the country have reported the 6-foot-11 center's weight at about 300 pounds, although he recently told his agent he's lost a few pounds. Last month, Turpin thought he was being traded to Washington and said, among other things, "I won't miss Frank Layden." Actually, the Bullets were just bringing in Turpin for a physical exam that could have led to his signing as a free agent via a contract provision, but they backed off.
So the career of Turpin, who was the No. 6 choice in the 1984 NBA draft and last season made $1 million, has come to this: He's being showcased in a summer-league game against a junior college team, just to prove that he can, presumably, still run up and down the court. "The Jazz have made their position clear," says Strickland, who approved of Checketts' plan, "and it behooves Mel to play as much as he can." Turpin will oppose 6-10 SLCC center Melvin Love and 6-8 Antoine Davison. SLCC gave up 52 points and 29 rebounds to Schayes and 28 points and 19 rebounds to Eaton Wednesday, but held other centers reasonably in check. Brown had 12 points for FHP Tuesday and Associated's Steve Hayes had 12 points and 15 rebounds Thursday.