Newly signed Utah Jazz center Jeff Withey will be among several players battling for the final three roster spots during training camp according to reports.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports first reported that the Jazz and the 25-year old, 7-foot center reached a two-year agreement which is partially guaranteed. The second year of the deal is reportedly a team option.
Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweeted that Withey’s contract calls for $200,000 of his deal to be guaranteed.
Still working on timing/details but I hear Jeff Withey got $200k of his contract guaranteed with the Utah Jazz @BBallInsiders
— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) August 24, 2015
Withey has spent the past two years in New Orleans after being drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft out of Kansas by the Portland Trail Blazers. He appeared in just 37 games for the Pelicans last season — seeing just 7.0 minutes of action a game — and averaging 2.6 points along with 1.3 rebounds a game. For his career, Withey averages 3.0 points and 2.8 caroms in 95 contests.
Withey is seen as a defensive force with his 7-foot-3 wingspan and shot-blocking ability — he has recorded 3.8 blocks per 100 possessions during his career according to Basketball-Reference. He also has decent mobility and a good rebounder.
Withey joins a crowded Jazz frontcourt that includes Rudy Gobert, Trey Lyles, Jack Cooley, Tibor Pleiss, Derrick Favors, Trevor Booker, and Grant Jerrett. Gobert along with Favors are expected to start the season at center and power forward, respectively.
Utah now has 19 players under contract — which includes 13 guaranteed and six partial/non-guaranteed contracts. The Jazz will likely add one more player to their training camp roster and it may be 6-foot-7 undrafted rookie J.J. O’Brien, according to KSL.
In addition to Gobert and Favors, Booker, Pleiss, Lyles, Dante Exum (injured), Gordon Haywood, Alec Burks, Trey Burke, Joe Ingles, Rodney Hood. and Raul Neto are essentially guaranteed spots on the roster. That leaves Withey along with Chris Johnson, Grant Jerrett, Jack Cooley, Elijah Millsap, Bryce Cotton, and Treveon Graham to fight for the final three roster spots. O’Brien will also be included in this group if he is indeed signed.
Here is a look at the other six players challenging for a roster spot.
O’Brien: O’Brien is a defensive-minded small forward out of San Diego State. He played for the Jazz Las Vegas and Salt Lake City summer league squad, averaging 4.4 points and 2.0 rebounds, while shooting 50.4 percent from the floor in eight games.
Johnson: Johnson is immensely talented and physically gifted. However, he has bounced around the NBA in his three seasons due to his inconsistent shooting.
Johnson averaged 5.7 points and 1.9 rebounds, while shooting 40.3 percent from the field as well as 29.5 percent from beyond the arc in 29 games for Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Utah. He averages 5.8 points on 40.2 percent shooting from the floor and 32.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Johnson is coming off a solid summer league campaign, where he averaged 8.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in seven summer league games. He shot 40.1 percent from the floor and 40.0 percent from the three-point line (9-of-23).
Jerrett: The 6-foot-10 power forward out of Arizona came to Utah from Oklahoma City in a trade. He dislocated his right shoulder in his first summer league game this year and missed the rest of summer league campaign. Jerrett averaged 2.0 points along with 1.1 rebounds in eight games with the Thunder and Jazz last season.
Graham: Graham is a strong, defensive-minded undrafted rookie out of VCU. He has the ability to score multiple ways and rebounds the ball well for his position. Graham signed a three-year minimum contract with a $75,000 guaranteed.
Graham appeared in 10 summer league games for the San Antonio Spurs, averaging 7.8 points along with 2.7 rebounds. He shot 46.4 percent from the field, but only 26.6 percent from the three-point line. Graham reached double-figures three times and registered his best game on July 20 when he went for 22 points and three steals against the Phoenix Suns.
Cooley: Cooley appeared in 16 games last season for the Jazz, averaging 1.7 points and 1.6 caroms, while shooting 40.9 percent from the field.
The 6-foot-9 power forward averaged 7.9 points and 6.9 rebounds while shooting 51.3 percent from the field.
Millsap: Millsap got his first taste of NBA action last season as a 28-year old. He averaged 5.3 points and 3.2 rebounds, along with 1.2 steals in 47 games with Utah. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard shot just 34.0 percent from the field and 31.1 percent from the three-point line.
Cotton: Cotton averaged 5.3 points along with 1.2 assists and 1.0 rebounds in 15 games with the Jazz. The 6-foot-1 point guard shot 42.0 percent from the field and 35.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Cotton was impressive in summer league action this year. He averaged 15.4 points, 3.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds in eight contests. Cotton tallied double-figures in four of the eight contests and topped the 20-point plateau three times.
Roster prediction: Cotton makes it as the Jazz need another point guard with Exum injury. Graham and O’Brien will likely be waived and assigned to the Idaho Stampede of the D-League. Jerrett is squarely on the bubble though there are reports that he will be waived. So, that leaves Withey, Millsap, Jerrett, and Johnson essentially for the final two spots with Withey and Johnson holding slight edges.
[photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images]