Jack Cooley

Jazz sign J.J. O’Brien to join roster competition

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The Jazz are set to hold one heck of a training-camp battle.

Utah just added its 20th player, the offseason limit, to compete for 15 regular-season roster spots.

Jazz release:

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has signed free agent forward J.J. O’Brien.

Utah has 13 players with guaranteed contracts, leaving two potential vacancies on the regular-season roster for the other seven players.

Jeff Withey’s deal is $200,00 guaranteed, and Treveon Graham’s is $75,000. Christopher Johnson, Jack Cooley, Elijah Millsap and Bryce Cotton have unguaranteed contracts. O’Brien’s salary is partially guaranteed, according to Mark Zeigler of The San Diego Union-Tribune.

O’Brien, a 6-foot-7 forward, went undrafted out of San Diego State. He’s well-rounded for a power forward, though undersized. He’s not quite skilled enough to be a small forward.

Most likely, the Jazz waive him and assign his D-League rights to their affiliate, the Idaho Stampede.

Withey, Millsap and Cotton are the favorites to make the regular-season roster. Withey has shown some ability at the NBA level and has the largest guarantee. Millsap looked good defensively last season. Cotton might be needed at point guard with Dante Exum injured, though Utah has Trey Burke and Raul Neto, and Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Joe Ingles and Rodney Hood can handle some point guard duties.

Like Graham’s, O’Brien’s partial guarantee gives him a slight leg up. Its size – but more importantly, how he plays in camp and the preseason – will determine whether he makes the team.

Utah Jazz reach non-guaranteed deal with big man Jeff Withey

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Jeff Withey was buried in the New Orleans front court last season, behind Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Omer Asik, and Alexis Ajinca. Withey only got on the court in garbage time. That said, Withey’s numbers suggest he might be a solid backup center if given the minutes.

Utah may do that. They are at least going to take a look, having reached a deal with him reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (Withey has since confirmed the signing).

Free agent 7-footer Jeff Withey has reached agreement to sign a two-year, partially guaranteed contract with the Utah Jazz, league sources told Yahoo Sports… Withey’s deal includes a team option in the second year, a league source told Yahoo.

It is possible Withey makes the Utah roster, but once again it will be difficult for him to get run. Clearly Rudy Gobert is the starter for the Jazz at center, but the minutes behind him are up for grabs. Rookie Tibor Pleiss will be on the roster, as will Trey Lyles, but throw in Derrick Favors and Trevor Booker (at the four) and space is limited along the front line. Jack Cooley has a partially guaranteed deal as well and will be fighting for a roster spot along with Withey.

Withey puts up good shot blocking numbers in the paint, he’s a solid rebounder, although his lack of NBA-level athleticism limits him. But even if he defends well, the question becomes his raw offensive game too much of a drag to make him worth it? Has Withey taken steps forward on the offensive end we have yet to see? Maybe a midrange game?

If Withey can prove that he learned and grew his game the past couple seasons on the bench in New Orleans — that he’s more than just another tall body — he will get some run in Utah. But he’s going to have to prove it, they have options.

Jazz sign Treveon Graham to larger guarantee than their other regular-season roster hopefuls

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The Jazz-Spurs pipeline seemed like it would send Garrett Temple to Utah (via the Wizards) after Dante Exum’s injury.

And it might.

First, San Antonio summer-leaguer Treveon Graham is headed to the Jazz.

Jazz release:

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has signed free agent guard/forward Treveon Graham (TRAY-vee-on).

Graham signed a three-year minimum contract with $75,000 guaranteed, according to Basketball Insiders.

Undrafted out of Virginia Commonwealth, Graham is an excellent rebounder for his position. He can score multiple ways and his length is a defensive asset, but his athleticism is limited for an NBA player.

The Jazz have 13 players with guaranteed salaries. Graham will compete with four players on fully unguaranteed deals – Christopher Johnson, Jack Cooley, Elijah Millsap and Bryce Cotton – for the final two regular-season roster spots. Graham’s guarantee might give him a slight advantage, but I’d still give the edge to Millsap and Cotton. Millsap looked defensively last year, and Cotton provides needed point guard depth after Exum’s injury.

Most likely, Utah waives Graham and assigned his D-League rights to its affiliate, the Idaho Stampede. Eating a $75,000 guarantee probably wouldn’t prohibit the Jazz from making any moves they’d make otherwise.

But Graham at least gets that small payout and a chance to impress in training camp. It’s hardly inconceivable the Temple Hills, Md., native makes the regular-season roster.

Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson with poster dunk on Jack Cooley (VIDEO)

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The Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson was aggressive and attacking the rim from the moment he got off the plane in Las Vegas. That led to him averaging 16.8 points a game and having some big games, but at times he dominated the ball while his teammates stood around. (Don’t make the Kobe joke there, you’re better than that.)

But it also meant some highlight plays.

Like what he did to Utah’s Jack Cooley in the third quarter Friday. Rick Kamla wasn’t kidding, that is one of the dunks of the Summer League.

Dante Exum impresses in Summer League for Jazz before leaving with ankle injury (VIDEO)

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Dante Exum had a strong outing for the Jazz at Summer League in Salt Lake City on Monday, finishing with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Then, this happened.

Aaron Falk of the Salt Lake Tribune

“We saw the coaches trying to call us over for a timeout and we just wanted to make sure he was OK,” center Jack Cooley said. “But Dante’s going to be fine. He’ll be all right. It was a little scary, but he’s a real tough kid.” …

Exum may not have been a lock to play in Tuesday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs summer squad even if he was healthy. Now his status is certainly in question, though he has not been ruled out.

“He’ll be all right,” forward Rodney Hood said. “He sprained his ankle pretty bad, but he’ll be all right. They’ll see about tomorrow. He might get some treatment, but I think he’ll be fine.”

Toughness isn’t a factor here, obviously, and while the developmental opportunities in Summer League are important, there’s no reason to risk a player’s health just to have him participate in an ultimately meaningless July contest.