Winning the original Jazz Point-Guard Derby only gave Billy Donovan 10 more days in training camp. Tuesday, the Jazz made Jim Les the latest survivor in the search for John Stockton's backup.
"He's won himself more time," Coach Frank Layden said of Les, who first practiced with the team only last Wednesday. Almost certainly, Les will be on the opening-night roster. The Jazz also waived forward Scott Roth and guard Marty Simmons, leaving them with 12 players. They could still add a player without releasing Les or anybody else, by placing Bobby Hansen on the injured list."We're going to keep our eyes on those (waiver) lists, but right now we don't have any plans," said president-general manager David Checketts.
Donovan complained to Layden that his play from August through October was erased by Les' one week in camp - but Layden countered that cutting Les after that short look would be unfair. "It's a little bit difficult for me to accept," said Donovan. "I don't think down the stretch we really competed for the job."
Les played 36 minutes in the last two exhibition games, Donovan 13. Donovan, who last season tried the CBA briefly before deciding to work out on his own while waiting for an NBA call, figures this was his last shot. "I love playing, but I think sometimes you should let a dream go," he said.
Roth's exit was surprising, because the Jazz have only 10 healthy players, plus Hansen and Mike Brown. They could have kept him until Hansen returned in late November, but his $105,000 salary was guaranteed if he stayed on the roster any longer. What effect did that contract provision have? Roth: "I'm sure that played a part in their thinking.
"In my heart, I feel I'm better than three or four guys here right now," said Roth, who joined the Jazz last February from Albany of the CBA. "I thought I had the inside track. I had good numbers in the preseason (37 points in 65 minutes), I thought I played well in practice; I guess sometimes that isn't good enough . . . I'll be back in the Salt Palace - not in this uniform, but in another."
Simmons, who was undrafted but was invited to the Jazz's summer program, was the least disappointed. In an unusual move, he returned to the practice floor to thank assistant coach Jerry Sloan after receiving the news from Layden.