Even after Utah traded Robert Whaley and his well-chronicled legal history to Toronto earlier this offseason, the rookie center was confident he'd soon return.
Whaley, aware the Raptors planned to waive him, indeed was on hand Monday when the Jazz opened Rocky Mountain Revue training camp in advance of Friday's start for the six-team summer league.
But he was there with no guarantees, no promises.
So be it, the 2005 second-round draft choice suggests.
"I'm just happy to be back," he said. "I'm ready to face any kind of obstacle that stands in front of me and this was another obstacle I've got to go through. I'm willing to come back and prove myself again.
"The only thing that kind of worries me is the part that really don't exist. Everyone says, 'Oh, he's got a bad past.' But I really don't see that past that everybody can see. You know, I've never been convicted. I never did nothing really wrong. Now, trouble do follow me. But, you know, I'm gonna prove myself as far as basketball goes."
Whaley has a spotty arrest record, the most recent entry a matter in which he and teammate Deron Williams gave authorities false identities following a Park City bar incident.
That, though, did not dissuade the Jazz from inviting Whaley to summer camp shortly after the Raptors who also acquired forward Kris Humphries in a deal for ex-BYU big man Rafael Araujo released him.
"We made a commitment to him at the end of the year," Jazz basketball boss Kevin O'Connor said. "We said if he got down to a specific weight we would have him back. We traded him, he got cut. But we felt we owed (the invite) to him. He busted his tail to get down to that weight; he's at it."
The 6-foot-10 Whaley survived a self-described "boot camp" to get his weight, which ballooned following January arthroscopic knee surgery and March back troubles, down to his targeted low-260s range.
Now, he hopes to parlay Revue play into a fall-camp invitation.
"I kind of like proving myself," Whaley said. "When my back is against the wall, that's when I'm at my best I think. And right now my back is against the wall."
Even though he's in familiar territory.
"I'm just happy to still be around," the 24-year-old Michigan native said. "I look at Utah like home almost. I stayed here all summer. . . . It's a great place to raise my son. I love it here.
"And I really like Coach (Jerry) Sloan a lot, and I know he has a lot of faith in me as far as basketball goes. He sees something in me or I wouldn't be here."
BIG LOSS: Araujo reported to Revue camp looking especially slim-and-trim, a far cry from the pudgy 291 pounds he carried coming out of college in 2004.
"He's shown he's dedicated to getting himself in shape," O'Connor said.
The Jazz will list the 6-11 Brazilian at 275 pounds; Araujo said he's actually about 270.
"I feel much better," he said. "(I've) tried to improve a lot on my body be athletic, and just try to be in the best shape I can to play this game at this level."
BREWER CONTRACT: Jazz first-round draft choice Ronnie Brewer planned to take care of paperwork Monday signing, as expected, a two-year, $3.19 million rookie contract. But he had no special spending plans. That was addressed late last month, when Brewer bought a nifty new watch while in Manhattan for the NBA Draft.
"It was a present for being in New York," the 21-year-old said. "My Mom said I could get it."
Second-round picks Dee Brown and Paul Millsap will play in the Revue on summer contracts with hopes of earning partially or fully guaranteed deals in the fall.
(First-rounders sign guaranteed contracts, but teams aren't obligated to guarantee salaries for second-round selections.)
ALUMNI UPDATE: Ex-Jazz shooting guard Kirk Snyder of New Orleans/Oklahoma City apparently isn't off to a great start at the ongoing Vegas Summer League in Las Vegas.
According to The Oklahoman on Monday, "through two games against considerably inferior competition, the Hornets' starting shooting guard for most of last season is struggling on both ends of the floor and is quickly playing himself out of next year's rotation."
"You would expect a guy going into his third year to have developed a lot more than he's developing," coach Byron Scott told the newspaper. "In (summer) league, you expect him not so much to (be) dominant but to stand out. And he hasn't.
"I think he's playing selfish. Everything he's doing, he's trying to score. Guys are open in the post, and he won't throw the ball in. He's just trying to score."
Snyder struggled similarly with the Jazz's Revue team last summer, and was traded by Utah partly at his own request shortly thereafter.
"I really don't know what I'm going to do with him next season," Scott said.
ALUMNI UPDATE II: Rather than enter the free-agency market, ex-Jazz big man Mikki Moore exercised the $1.07 million option for next season on his contract with the Sonics, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Monday.
"He's a good team guy," Sonics general manager Rick Sund told the newspaper. "Every team needs a guy like him."
REVUE ROSTER: Seven Utah Revue camp players have either played previously for the Jazz (Whaley, Williams and C.J. Miles) were drafted by the team this year (Brewer, Brown and Millsap) or were acquired recently via trade (Araujo).
Among the other 10, only one ex-Fresno State big man Hiram Fuller has appeared in regular-season NBA games. He played four for Atlanta during the 2003-04 season.TRADE TALK: According to O'Connor, the recently revealed trade bringing veteran guard Derek Fisher to Utah from Golden State is something the Jazz "were working on . . . a little bit" even before the June 28 NBA Draft.
E-mail: [email protected]