Moore Remains in Utah's Picture Despite Retention of Jeffers
The Jazz had until Tuesday to decide whether to sign Jeffers, whose second 10-day contract expires, for the rest of the season or to let him go. Jeffers and Utah general manager Kevin O'Connor both confirmed after Monday's 110-97 win over Boston at EnergySolutions Arena that Jeffers will be kept for the rest of the season.
Jeffers will sign a deal that also is for the minimum salary for next season but that part is non-guaranteed so the Jazz will have the ability to work with him throughout the summer and use him as a possible trade chip. Guard Sundiata Gaines in January also signed such a deal that is for the rest of this season and non-guaranteed for 2010-11.
Despite Jeffers being kept, O'Connor said the Jazz still might look to sign a 14th player. He confirmed Moore is in the mix.
"We've only got 13,'' said O'Connor, referring to as many as 15 allowed on a roster. "If we can improve our team, we'll look to (sign a 14th).''
O'Connor called Moore, who underwent surgery in December to remove a right heel spur, one of "the guys we've talked about'' regarding a possible addition.
But there remains some confusion about when Moore, who played with the Jazz in 2003-04, might be ready to play. Agent Mark Bartelstein had said earlier Monday that Moore was "one or two weeks away'' from being ready, and that was relayed to O'Connor before the game against the Celtics.
"Understand, I don't know what a week or two is,'' O'Connor said. "Is it a week or two from working out or is a week or two from playing?''
Reached Monday night for clarification, Bartelstein said his client is "a week or two from being at full speed,'' which he said includes working out and playing.
While saying he has talked to Jazz officials about Moore, who has career averages of 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 12 seasons, Bartelstein didn't elaborate further.
An argument could be made the 6-foot-11 Moore, if healthy, is the best big man on the market, albeit there's not much from which to choose. Moore, who has been easing back into shape in Atlanta following his Dec. 18 surgery, started 20 of 23 games earlier this season for Golden State, averaging 5.0 points. He was waived in January by the Warriors when they needed a roster spot and knew Moore's surgery would keep him out until late in the regular season.
Bartelstein also represents free-agent big men Brian Cook, Jake Voskuhl, Mark Blount and Rob Kurz. Cook and Voskuhl worked out two weeks ago with the Nuggets before they opted to hold off on possibly signing a big man. Bartelstein said nothing is now in the works with Denver regarding any of his clients but the Nuggets could revisit the situation later in the season.
Meanwhile, Denver's Northwest Division rival has made a move similar to what Nuggets vice president of basketball operations Mark Warkentien often does. By signing a player for the rest of the season and then to a non-guaranteed deal for next season, that player can be used as a trade piece for a team looking to cut salary as well as for giving the team an assurance he would be available for the summer league.
That was done by the Jazz with Gaines two months ago. And now it's being done with Jeffers.
"His toughness,'' O'Connor said of what he likes about Jeffers. "He's got to change positions a little bit (becoming more perimeter oriented). We don't know how he'll do that and everything. But he's a character guy.''
The 6-foot-5 Jeffers was quite pleased to hear the news after Monday's game that he will be retained.
"I'm ecstatic,'' said Jeffers, averaging 3.2 points in six Jazz games after having averaged 14.3 points earlier in the season for Iowa of the NBA D-League. "I really don't have any words right now. I'm just ready to show coach (Jerry Sloan) more. But I guess I did enough to win them over.''
Utah is over the luxury-tax line, and had been alternating between 12 and 13 players since trading Eric Maynor and Matt Harpring in December. The Jazz signed Gaines in January to a pair of 10-day deals and eventually for the season to be at 13, traded Ronnie Brewer last month to get down to 12 and then signed Jeffers to his first 10-day contract to return to 13. The NBA minimum for a roster is 13, but a team is allowed to stay at 12 players for two weeks after making a deal.
But soon the Jazz could be up to 14. And Moore is a candidate.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter@christomasson