While the Jazz's talk of trading Mel Turpin to a team in Spain for Jose Ortiz sounds unusual, agent Warren LeGarie is very familiar with NBA-Europe exchanges like this. "We do this all the time," he says. It's very feasible . . . it's not unncommon."
LeGarie, Ortiz's agent, has worked on exchanges involving Audie Norris, Ben McDonald, Phil Zevenbergen and Pace Mannion, when Mannion came to the Jazz in 1984. The twist in this case is that the Jazz would both lose and obtain a player.After Jazz president-general manager David Checketts convinced Ortiz in July to play for the Jazz following the Olympics, LeGarie went to Spain earlier this month and started working on ways to free Ortiz from his contract with the team in Zaragoza. That's how Turpin became involved; the situation is complicated by the fact Ortiz has three years left on his contract.
"As long as we give them a player they're comfortable with, it seems to work out," noted LeGarie, who works extensively with European teams. "Turpin has a rather substantial name in Europe, and that's attractive to sponsors and ticket-buyers."
Unlike trades in the NBA, this deal would require new contracts for each player. LeGarie says he and the Jazz have an agreement in principle for Ortiz's contract, so the transaction hinges on whether the Zaragoza coach was sufficiently impressed with Turpin after watching him play and if Turpin wants to go to Spain.
NBA general counsel Gary Bettman said the league does not allow actual trades with other leagues, but implied that an agreement could be made with Turpin's approval. "It's something we have to consider," says Turpin's agent, ProServ's William Strickland. He says there's still NBA interest in Turpin, but observes that going overseas might help resurrect Turpin's career.
"I don't look at it as being extreme," Strickland said. "Even if Mel was to go for a year or two, he could come back and he'd still be young. He has not played much in the last two years, and this would be an opportunity for him to play on a more frequent basis."
Strickland is impressed with the Zaragoza team's organization and LeGarie says of the possible deal, "It's good for both."
Now, they and the Jazz have to wait for the Zaragoza team's decision.