Wednesday, Jazz Coach Frank Layden listed the 12 players who will make the team's regular-season roster - in a note to himself.
He does the same thing every day and, he says, the list keeps changing. "I'm going to try to keep an open mind until the deadline," he said.The next changes could come after tonight's exhibition game against the Los Angeles Lakers in the Marriott Center. The final list is due to the NBA office Tuesday afternoon, prior to next Friday's season opener against Seattle.
Really, Layden's assignment is not all that complex. With Bobby Hansen opening the season on the injured list - meaning he'd miss at least five games with his broken hand - the Jazz must cut two players. One of them will be likely a point guard, Billy Donovan or Jim Les; the other a utility player, probably Marty Simmons or Scott Roth.
Les' arrival for Wednesday night's practice followed Donovan's apparent victory last week when the Jazz waived two other point guards. "I'm willing to compete for the job," says Donovan. "I have no problem with that at all. I'm not looking for a handout."
Les, who asked Milwaukee to waive him last week in hopes of landing another tryout, has already impressed the Jazz staff with his quickness. He'll have to make his mark in the last two preseason games. "I'm trying to absorb a lot of things in a short period of time," he said. "I'm trying to learn exactly what they want. I want to get to a point where I know the system and can do things naturally."
Pressure? "That's the nature of this business," he said. "If I don't like that kind of pressure, I shouldn't be here."
Jazz officials even say there's a chance they'll leave the job to Bart Kofoed, a converted off guard. "It's more complicated than Donovan vs. Les," says president-general manager David Checketts.
The Jazz, meanwhile, will try to deal with the two-time World Champs in what should fairly closely resemble a regular-season game. This is the Lakers' final preseason game and the Jazz did all kinds of experimenting in Tuesday's overtime loss at Golden State, so Layden will play this one straight.
The Jazz also want to answer last week's 33-point loss to the Lakers in the Forum, where things were close when the regulars were in the game. "The game there didn't really show what we can do," said Karl Malone. "The reserves have a right like anybody else to play a lot of minutes, and they did."