One day after the Utah Jazz contract of second-round draft choice Kyrylo Fesenko was approved by FIBA and the NBA, making the 7-foot-1 youngster a Jazz property for the next three seasons, Jazz unrestricted free-agent center Rafael Araujo signed a one-year contract to play for Spartak St. Petersburg in Russia.
This is the club for which Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko played at age 15 in 1996-97.
Araujo's agent, Jim McDowell, said the Jazz made no offer other than to invite Araujo to their fall camp with no guarantees, and he indicated that Fesenko's signing let the Araujo camp know for sure to look elsewhere.
McDowell said there were a number of contacts from European teams, some of whom had their coaches calling or text messaging regarding the 6-11 BYU product from Brazil, a 2004 lottery pick by the Toronto Raptors who spent one season with the Jazz following a trade in June 2006.
"This one made the most sense," McDowell said of Araujo's new contract that will net slightly more than the NBA minimum for a player with three years of experience, putting it somewhere in the low $800,000 range. "It's an opportunity for him to play every day, which he needs."
Araujo played regularly in Toronto but got into only 28 Jazz games, averaging 8.9 minutes, 2.6 points and 2.4 rebounds, despite remaking his body physically after last summer's trade. He missed most of this summer's Rocky Mountain Revue with a groin strain that had lingered since the NBA playoffs, so McDowell said it's important for Araujo to get court time to attract future NBA attention.
McDowell said the Araujos will return to Salt Lake City soon to pack he's been working out in Santa Barbara, Calif. Spartak wants Araujo in Russia in early September, but the family will likely keep its Salt Lake City home.
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