Two seasons ago, Jazz point guard Jamaal Tinsley and newcomer DeMarre Carroll were teammates in Memphis.
The players were reunited Thursday morning, when the Jazz practiced for the first time since Utah signed Carroll for the rest of the season.
“He’s a hard-nosed player,” Tinsley said. “Good guy. Good friend. Good teammate. He works hard. He listens. Like I said, he’s a good player.”
Carroll, a 6-foot-8 forward, also has fond memories of playing side by side with Tinsley.
“I call him my Big Vet,” said Carroll, who laughed because both players arrived early for practice.
“In Memphis, we did the same thing.”
Coach Tyrone Corbin spoke enthusiastically about the addition of Carroll.
“He’s a good young hustle player who is finding his way in this league,” Corbin said. “He had a great college career. ... He really works hard on both ends of the floor. A physical defensive player. He’s going to add a lot of energy.”
Referring to Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor, Corbin added, “I think he’s a guy Kevin has had on his radar for the last couple of years and there was an opportunity to get him now — an opportunity to add a player that we think will help us grow.”
According to Corbin, Carroll is a “three-man that can play bigger threes. He can also play some four. … He really works hard. He’s a hustle guy who will bust his butt every minute he’s on the floor.”
Carroll played four games for Denver early this season before being waived on Feb. 4. He spent the 2009-10 season with Memphis and split last year between the Grizzlies and Houston Rockets. Carroll called signing with Utah “… a great opportunity. The situation in Denver didn’t work out, but I’m glad to be here.”
He calls himself a “blue-collar guy” who is willing to “do whatever it takes.”
For now, he is not concerned about minutes.
“I really don’t worry about that,” Carroll said. “Just come in here and do what I got to do. If I get the opportunity, I get the opportunity. The biggest thing about the NBA is opportunity.”
Burks searching for minutes
Jazz rookie Alec Burks averages 5.5 points in 11.2 minutes but has not played in the past three games.
“I’ve talked to him,” Corbin said. “He understands it. I want to get him minutes on the floor. Because of where we are now and the way we’re going, it’s my fault. I just haven’t had a chance to find minutes for him.
“But I talked to him about staying ready. … He’s a quality player and big part of what we’re trying to do here. We’ll have to find him more minutes on the floor.”
Tinsley, who missed Tuesday night’s loss at Indiana because of a non-emergency family situation, returned to practice.
“Everything is going good,” he said. “Just a personal issue I had to take care of at home, and I’m glad to be back.”
Thunder at Jazz
P At EnergySolutions Arena
Tipoff • Friday, 8:30 p.m.
TV • ROOT Sports, ESPN
Radio • 1320 AM, 1600 AM, 98.7 FM
Records • Thunder 20-5, Jazz 13-11
Last meeting • Thunder, 106-94 (March 23, 2011)
About the Thunder • Oklahoma City entered Thursday with the best record in the NBA. … The Thunder had won four of five prior to playing at Sacramento on Thursday. … OKC forward Kevin Durant was second in the NBA in average scoring (28.5), Serge Ibaka ranked third in blocks (2.68) and Russell Westbrook was fifth in steals (2).
About the Jazz • Utah has lost four of five and seven of 11. … The Jazz have scored 101 points or less in four consecutive games. … Newly signed forward DeMarre Carroll is eligibe to play, while reserve point guard Jamaal Tinsley has returned to the team.