BOISE C.J. Miles is but one of the 53 or so OK, maybe it's only nine players in Jazz camp who could conceivably see minutes at shooting guard this season.
Veteran Gordan Giricek. Youngster Ronnie Brewer. Rookie Morris Almond. Combo guards Jason Hart and Ronnie Price. Swingmen Andrei Kirilenko and Matt Harpring. Even, in certain limited situations, however much to his personal chagrin, starting point guard Deron Williams.
With last season's starter, Derek Fisher, gone to the Los Angeles Lakers, each among the aforementioned eight is a bona fide possibility.
So is 20-year-old Miles, who essentially has one more year his third now in Utah since being drafted as a teenager straight out of his Dallas high school to prove he deserves to be a part of the Jazz landscape for many seasons beyond the present.
It's with that in mind Miles will go about trying to prove that not playing for the Jazz in the Rocky Mountain Revue summer league last July does not join the likes of Olden Polynice walking away from guaranteed money, Greg Ostertag returning to Utah for one more year, the drafting of Raul Lopez instead of Tony Parker and Larry H. Miller wearing a tight-fitting basketball uniform in public on the list of all-time worst decisions in Jazz history.
"I understand why Coach (Jerry Sloan) is upset," Miles said on Wednesday's second day of training camp at Boise State University. "Because I'm one of his players. Of course he wants a young player at summer league."
Miles, a restricted free agent this past offseason, chose to skip the Revue
because he didn't want to risk a serious injury while trying to pursue a guaranteed multiyear contract offer.
Instead, the native Texan spent time near his agent while working out with NBA players in New Rochelle, N.Y. keeping track of what was happening in the Revue either on the Internet or via phone calls with teammates including Brewer.
One little birdie over Miles' shoulder kept telling him it was the right thing.
"It was just, at that time, a decision I had to make," he said. "I mean, it wasn't that I didn't want to play summer league.
"Me, just loving to play basketball, I wanted to go play in the games," Miles added. "But, at the same time, I had to really evaluate the business side of it."
Another birdie, however, kept chirping that he probably should have been there, business be danged.
"Of course it would have been helpful to play in the games," he said.
That established, Miles hastens to add this: "But, at the same time, I don't think it set me back."
A month's worth of training camp and preseason games may tell whether it did or not.
The shooting guard spot really is wide open, and if the ground some might argue he did indeed lose in the summer does not impact him too adversely in the fall, Miles should have as much of a shot to contend as anyone.
He did, after all, start the Jazz's first 12 games of last season. And though he wound up seeing action in only 37 games of his sophomore NBA season, year No. 3 in the league might be time for a breakout.
With the Jazz offering him nothing more than a one-year qualifying offer of $945,610, and no other NBA teams willing to go multiple years on a more lucrative deal, Miles signed the one-year tender last Monday.
He did so with some degree of resignation, but no temptation whatsoever to roll dice and do what certain other restricted free agents around the league have done for instance, both big man Anderson Varejao and former Jazz shooting guard Sasha Pavlovic in Cleveland by opting not to simply accept their qualifying offer and report to camp.
Instead, both remained home at the start of Cavaliers camp.
"It was never that much of a hard-ball game," Miles said. "That would make the situation worse, I think."
So Miles is here, playing on a one-year deal that comes with several ramifications.
One is that as an under-contract third-year player, he is guaranteed to not have to play this season like he did for stints during his first two NBA years in the D-League.
That's important to Miles, who suggests he got a lot from the NBA's development league but is happy he won't have to return.
"It was great for me my first two years," he said. "It helped me so much. I don't think I would have made the strides I made my first year, and even gotten closer to the strides I made last year, without going there.
"But," he adds, "at the same time ... "
Miles' voice trails.
The point, though, is made.
Another consequence is that while the Jazz can release Miles with guaranteed money at any time, they cannot trade him without his permission offering some level of comfort in terms of knowing where he'll likely be throughout the coming season.
"We gave him a 40 percent raise, and we signed him for another year," basketball operations senior vice president Kevin O'Connor said earlier this week. "I think that means we wanted him back on the team."
Staying on it and retaining his roster spot, though, is no sure thing.
Ask Sloan what it will take for Miles to stick, even with his guaranteed money, and the answer seems as stinging as it is short.
"A lot of hard work," he said, adding nothing.
Then there is the reality that Miles will be a restricted free agent again next year armed this time, he hopes, with a better case for deserving a multiyear deal than the 3.0 points-per-game scoring average and 35.4 shooting percentage he established during his first two NBA seasons.
Beyond money matters, though, Miles just wants to prove he indeed is an NBA-quality player.
"I still have to go in and show I can play, and compete for minutes," he said. "I feel like I have to come in and show I'm ready to play. That's my main focus to show I'm going to go hard every second I'm on the floor."
"Of course the goal is to be the starter," he said.
Perhaps more realistic, though, is a bid for regular-rotations minutes part of the night-in, night-out herd Sloan uses to fill Utah's void at the 2 spot.
"Somebody just has to be consistent," Miles said, "so we can be stable at that position."
Miles firmly believes he can fill that bill, even if his decision to skip the Revue may have put him toward the back of the pack in a certain coach's mind.
It's what, truth be told, he's thought since last season ended.
It's what he thought even when the Jazz selected another shooting guard, Almond, in the June draft's first round. What he thought even after Utah signed a couple of free-agent points, Hart and Price, who can also play the 2. What he thought when summer league was being played, and he was nowhere to be seen."I never thought I'd be leaving," Miles said. "I knew there was a possibility, but I thought there was a high chance I'd be back. I never had a doubt in my mind."
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