Raja Bell was released by the Utah Jazz on Sunday after not playing for the team at all this season.
The release my signal the end of the road for the 36-year-old guard, who will become an unrestricted free agent after the season. Because Raja Bell was released before the March 1 deadline, he will not be eligible for the playoffs.
Bell was known as a defensive-minded guard who was deft at three-pointers, but had trouble in Utah. He came into conflict with Utah coach Tyrone Corbin over playing time and did not play down the stretch last season or during the 2012 playoffs.
During the playoffs, Raja Bell called Corbin “unprofessional” and said he wouldn’t play for the Jazz again. Bell followed through, skipping out on training camp and not joining the team this year — a decision the Jazz agreed with.
Raja Bell said he would like to play in the NBA, and he has rumored to be joining the Lakers. The guard has a history with current Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, who was his coach on the fast-paced Phoenix Suns teams of the mid 2000s. But the Lakers would likely balk at acquiring Bell this season because of his ineligibility for the playoffs, which will severely limit his ability to play in the NBA again this season.
Raja Bell averaged 6.4 points per game for the Jazz last season, but only played in 34 games.
Bell will receive the full amount of his contract and can sign with another team once he clears waivers. The Jazz had reportedly been trying to trade Bell or buy out his contract. Because they two sides couldn’t reach an agreement on the parameters of a buyout, the Utah Jazz decided to release Bell and pay him the $3.5 million he was owed this year.
After Raja Bell was released, the Utah Jazz fell to 14 players on the roster. The team is likely to sign D-League player Travis Leslie.