The Jazz traded one reserve point guard for another Wednesday, returning journeyman Jason Hart to the Los Angeles Clippers and acquiring veteran Brevin Knight in a swap of former Charlotte Bobcat teammates.
Knight, a New Jersey native who went on to become Stanford's all-time assists leader, was drafted 16th overall in 1997 by Cleveland and has played 655 regular-season games for eight NBA teams over 11 years.
He also starred at Seton Hall Prep School, winning a Jersey state title there.
"He can run a team," said Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor, who has long held interest in Knight. "That's something we've always appreciated from him. And he's a guy that protects the basketball pretty good."
O'Connor had no comment when asked how the acquisition might impact the Jazz's feelings about matching an offer sheet that restricted free agent swingman C.J. Miles signed last week with Oklahoma City a decision expected to be revealed Friday.
Hart played at Syracuse and has logged 297 games for Milwaukee, San Antonio, Charlotte, Sacramento, the Clippers and the Jazz.
Utah signed him to a two-year, roughly $4.8 million deal last offseason, but he wound up losing his backup job at the point to Utah Valley product Ronnie Price and appearing in just 57 games with an average of 2.9 points, 1.5 assists and 10.6 minutes for the Jazz.
"Jason struggled at the beginning (of the season)," O'Connor said, "and tried awfully hard probably too hard at times."
Hart's numbers marked a precipitous drop from his short stint in Los Angeles, where at the end of the 2006-07 season he averaged 9.0 points, 4.0 assists and 32.4 starting-role minutes over 23 games for his hometown Clippers.
"He (Hart) is ecstatic," agent Bill Neff said. "Because it didn't work out (in Utah). Not because of anything they did. It just didn't. ... Jason just didn't play well there. But he has no complaints about the Jazz."
After the season, Hart's camp suggested to the Jazz that it would be amenable to a trade.
So when Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy approached Neff recently at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas to ask how Hart would feel about returning to L.A., the answer was obvious.
"It's home," Neff said, "and it's going back to a coach (Mike Dunleavy) he's had success with."
In Los Angeles, 30-year-old Hart will back up newly acquired point Baron Davis.
In Utah, Knight who turns 33 in November will battle in training camp with Price for reserve-role minutes behind Team USA member Deron Williams.
The swap saves the Jazz nearly $900,000 in salary, as Knight is scheduled to make $1.6 million next season in the second year of a two-year, $3.2 million deal, and Hart will earn $2,484,000 in the final year of his contract.
That sort of savings, though, isn't as important next season in terms of team payroll luxury-tax threshold implications as it would be in 2009-2010 and beyond, when the Jazz could conceivably have Williams, small forward Andrei Kirilenko and power forward Carlos Boozer all under contract for $15 million or more each.
The offer to Miles is believed to be for about $15.8 million over four years about $800,000 more than originally reported in both Utah and Oklahoma.
But it also is thought to include a team option for the fourth season something not previously made public.
Knight is on a family vacation and is not expected to be introduced to Utah media until sometime next week.
After playing three-plus seasons in Cleveland, as well as stints in Atlanta, Memphis, Phoenix, Washington, Milwaukee and Charlotte including one playoff series with the Cavaliers, and one with the Bucks his most-recent stop was in L.A., where he averaged 4.6 points, 4.4 assists and 22.6 minutes over 74 games, including 39 starts, for the Clippers.
The heavy minutes came because the Clippers played all season without injured Shaun Livingston, but Knight is not expected to see nearly so much time behind Williams.
Should Williams be lost to injury or illness for an extended time period, however, Knight is someone who evidently can be trusted to handle longer playing time.
He finished second in the NBA last season in assists-per-turnover ratio at 4.62."I think it's up to him," O'Connor said, "to carve out his own role."
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