For whatever reason, the Utah Jazz are announcing their training camp invites pretty early this season. The reason that I've come up with is just that these are more 'normative' training camp invites compared to previous seasons. Specifically, these guys have a chance to make the Jazz team -- but it appears like most of them are really there to help develop, round out, and bring roster stability to the Idaho Stampede. Effectively, the Jazz are handling the personnel moves for the Stamps, like they were a legit minor league branch of the larger organization. (Just like how they picked who the head coach was going to be...)
When approached for comment there was no official position from Stampede PR on these signings at this point in time.
It's true that one or more of these players could make the Utah Jazz (current NBA roster is at 13 players, out of 15 slots, not including these four guys) I do feel like that is unlikely.
Who are they?
Dee has been on the Jazz radar since 2012, where he was brought in for a pre-draft workout. The point guard remained on the Jazz radar since then being invited to a free agent mini camp in 2013 and 2014. Bost is from North Carolina, but went to college at Mississippi State. The four year player does know current Jazz rookie Rodney Hood (who spent his freshman year there before transferring to Duke). At Miss St. he played in 122 games, and averaged 13.4 ppg, 5.2 apg, 3.8 rpg, and 1.6 spg in 34.4 mpg. He is not a natural shooter, never once surpassing the 80.0 ft% mark, and for his career he would only manage 38.4 fg%, which takes the shine off of his 34.3 3pt%. In his senior year he averaged 15.8 ppg, 5.6 apg, 3.3 rpg, and 2.0 spg -- while making 2.3 threes a game, but at the rate of 34.6 3pt%. He has always been a guy who does get to the line though, but he doesn't really capitalize on that -- so join in the Alec Burks / Derrick Favors club.
After going undrafted he played for the Portland Trail Blazers in summer league (2012-13), and was unremarkable. He then signed a two year deal with a team in Europe (Buducnost Podgorcia, in Montenegro). He was also unremarkable there. He would play four preseason games with the Portland Trail Blazers the next year (2013-14), but not make the team. Dee then joined the Idaho Stampede and would play 50 games there, averaging 15.2 ppg, 8.4 apg, 6.1 rpg, and 2.1 spg -- while shooting .362 .293 .725. He was an All-star there (as an injury replacement for Jarvis Varnado), but mainly through his defensive efforts and team play. He's was a big part of what Idaho did last year, a big part of that had to be the fact that he was playing over 40 minutes per game. He also played for Trotamundos de Carabobo for 18 games back in 2013-14 as well. Dude was only able to get 20 mpg playing in Venezuela. This past summer league (2014-15) he played for the Indiana Pacers (Orlando) and Dallas Mavericks (Vegas), and again, wasn't that impressive. This training camp will be his fourth go-around in front of Utah Jazz coaches in three seasons (his second in front of Quin Snyder).
It's clear that he has been on the radar for the Jazz for a while, but also for other teams (Portland has seen him a few times too). Utah is in need for point guard insurance -- though you figure that Trey Burke, Dante Exum, Ian Clark, Alec Burks, and max player Gordon Hayward can all handle the ball a little bit.
I like Bost, and I would think that the Jazz do as well. He's not perfect, but if he was, he wouldn't be available. Having him in training camp at the very least helps with the continuation of government, or whatever you need to call it, so that what he is running in Idaho this year is what the Jazz point guards will be running too. (I wouldn't be surprised if the Stamps head coach is also in training camp this year)
At the end of the day this could just be what the Jazz need to do in order to legitimize their D-League team, as he played the most games and minutes for Idaho last season, and led the team in assists, was second in rebounds, and third in total points.
You kind of have to give this guy a shot to make the NBA.
Kevin Murphy is our guy. While he was not brought in for a pre-draft work out the team did draft him. He played in summer league, training camp, and made the team all as a rookie. He bounced around after that (the Jazz lost him in the Golden State Warriors / Denver Nuggets / Andris Biedrins trade). He only played in 17 games for the Jazz as a rookie. He played even less (13 games) in France (2013-14). Where has he made his mark? Not in the NBA preseason or summer league (go arounds with the Jazz twice, and then Golden State, and the Lakers). It has been in the NBA DLeague.
In his first year, with Reno, he did not do much else besides shoot. Last season, paired up with Dee Bost in Idaho, he exploded for 25.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.7 apg, and 1.1 spg. He shot well enough (85% at the line, 39% from deep) that you could argue that he has progressed since his rookie year with the team. The other argument here is that, well, Morris Almond averaged over 20 ppg in the D-League for over 160 games. Morris' best seasons down there were better than Murphy's last single season.
Food for thought.
Even more food for thought . . .
Like Bost, this may just be the necessary step needed in order to run a single team affiliate now. He may not have a real shot to make the Jazz, but appears to be our primary scoring threat in Idaho. It's nice to bring Murph back 'home' to the Jazz. This will be his fourth go-around with the team. I think the Jazz are great at evaluating and drafting second round talent. I would not be surprised to see this guy be a player one day.
Who doesn't love Brock Motum? I know a group of people who do love him, the Jazz brass. They've had him in for a free agent mini camp this year, brought him back for summer league -- and shortly after he punched his ticket to come back for training camp. During the short time I've seen him play he has do a lot. He doesn't stop hustling, he can play defense, and he has legit three point range when he has space. He's not going to be knocking down contested threes like Mehmet Okur used to do. But he's better than Erik Murphy at being a stretch big if you ask me.
Out of everyone listed I think he actually has a chance to be on the Jazz this year, because he does the dirty work.
I don't think we need to go into it any more, him being on the Aussie national team right now with Dante Exum is also a plus.
Jack Cooley is another 'stretch big' that's been on the Jazz radar for a while. He was brought in for TWO pre-draft workouts back in 2013; and then was involved in the free agent mini camp earlier this summer. This invite to training camp would be his 4th thing with the Jazz. Cooley (his former twitter handler was JCooligan) was a four year player at Notre Dame and went 1/2 from deep there -- again in four years. He's a throwback big, and not like Troy Murphy with his range. He did take a bunch of threes in summer league (13 in 2013, 7 this last year), -- and, well, he's not that good. He's made 6 out of 20. His strengths are the traditional ones, rebounding, fouling, having a high FG%, and the like.
He played in Turkey back in 2013-14, where he went for 12.6 ppg (62.0 fg%), 6.9 rpg, and 0.5 bpg. I don't know what kind of comp he was facing as a member of the Trabzonspor (clearly named by Strong Bad) bball team. But those are solid numbers in in 22.9 mpg, even if it's the Turkish 2nd league.
In the American 2nd league, the NBA-DL, we'll see how he does this upcoming season.
There's no way this dude makes the Jazz.
What's the common thread here? All four played NCAA ball, and international ball. They've all bounced around in NBA summer league teams, few going so far as to play in pre-season games. Only Murph is a former NBA player. This could be, you know, four of the five starters for Idaho this year. The old adage was a 'training camp contract' was short and sweet. It was not a real special type of contract, but just one that was easy to get rid of (see: Mike Harris).
The contracts these guys will sign will probably inhabit a new realm for the Jazz -- the pro contract that has length, few years, and is specifically there to make it competitive on the D-League open market. It's not lotto pick money. But it's not Myck Kabongo money either. And whatever does happen to these kids, it's a positive step for the Jazz franchise to be taking the NBA-DL seriously.
And seriously using it as a resource.
None of these players may make it through training camp -- but I would be very surprised if they weren't putting in work in Idaho this year.