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Utah Jazz pick Kevin Murphy at 47; Mo Williams deal in limbo

Published July 2, 2012 5:12 pm

NBA Draft •
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Jazz added Kevin Murphy.

And possibly Mo Williams.

Utah spent the initial four hours of the 2012 NBA Draft on Thursday quietly watching and waiting, then finally selected Murphy — a 6-foot-7, 185-pound shooting guard from Tennessee Tech — with the No. 47 overall pick in the second round.

"I'm just blessed to be picked," said the 22-year-old Murphy, who admires former second-round pick Paul Millsap but acknowledged all he knows about the state of Utah is it's "up there in the mountains, somewhere."

The Jazz previously lost a potential first-round lottery pick to Golden State, which selected North Carolina's Harrison Barnes at No. 7.

If Utah had received the pick, it could have taken Duke's Austin Rivers, Connecticut's Jeremy Lamb, North Carolina's Kendall Marshall and Washington's Terrence Ross, all of whom were chosen soon after Barnes.

Instead, the Jazz's lone addition was a small-college guard with a quick release whose statistics improved all four seasons.

"We just took the highest guy [on our draft board]," said O'Connor, at the Jazz's draft party inside EnergySolutions Arena.

He added: "He's an older player, he can make a shot, and he seems to be comfortable shooting off the dribble. I don't want to pigeonhole the guy just as a shooter, because he can take it to the basket. … He's a nice player. He's got an opportunity to make the team. But it's up to him."

During a draft Utah played little part in, Williams' potential return to Salt Lake City dominated Jazz news.

Thursday afternoon, ESPN reported Utah had been brought into a stalled deal between Dallas and the Los Angeles Clippers. The latter had eyed mercurial forward Lamar Odom all week, but had been unable to pry him from the Mavericks.

With the Jazz stepping in, Dallas was willing to shed Odom's unstable personality and $8.2 million salary in exchange for Utah's $10.8 million trade exception, which was acquired in the Mehmet Okur deal. In return, the Jazz would acquire Williams, who would agree to his one-year $8.5 million option with the Clippers before being shipped to SLC.

Then, the momentum stopped.

While some national reports said Williams had accepted his option, The Salt Lake Tribune was informed by sources with direct knowledge of the situation that wasn't the case. The nine-year veteran instead spent Thursday considering his future, and could wait until Saturday — when he would become a free agent — to make a final decision.

O'Connor and Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin wouldn't officially comment about Williams, since he's still under contract with the Clippers. However, O'Connor acknowledged not keeping Williams after his rookie season remains the biggest mistake of his tenure with the Jazz.

Utah originally drafted Williams with the No. 47 overall pick in 2003 out of Alabama. He played just one season for the Jazz before signing an offer sheet with Milwaukee that Utah didn't match. Through nine seasons with four teams, the 29-year-old Williams has averaged 13.8 points and 4.9 assists while shooting 44.1 percent from the floor and 38.7 percent behind the 3-point line.

As for Murphy, he'll likely have an opportunity to battle second-year guard Alec Burks and veteran Raja Bell for playing time and scoring chances.

From Fairburn, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, Murphy averaged 20.6 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 41.6 percent behind the 3-point line during his final year with the Golden Eagles.

He scored at least 20 points in 18 games last season, including a 50-point performance on 16-of-21 shooting against SIU Edwardsville on Jan. 30. Murphy recorded a combined 76 points during three games against Murray State, which was one of the top small schools in the country during 2011-12.

"I can play on any level," said Murphy, who credited a strong showing at the annual pre-draft Portsmouth Invitational for elevating him in the eyes of NBA scouts.

The Jazz spent this week attempting to trade up into the lottery but ultimately were unsuccessful. Sources close to the situation described the process as frustrating and lacking hope 24 hours before the draft, with Utah unable to cash in on expiring contracts and respected veteran starters.

"There was no movement," O'Connor said. "And I can tell you, just listening to other guys that I talked to that were trying to move [from] the 20s into the early part of [the lottery], they had absolutely no success, either. I could've made a trade. But I don't think you would've liked who I traded."

bsmith@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribjazz —

Meet Kevin Murphy

Position • Guard

Vitals • 6-foot-7, 185 pounds

College • Tennessee Tech

Numbers • 20.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists as senior

Strengths • Fearless shooter whose stats improved each season, smooth release, strong jump shot

Weaknesses • Turnover prone shooter from a small college

Role • Scoring wing off bench

Prediction • Thicker, stronger Alec Burks —

Recent Jazz draft picks

2012 • Kevin Murphy

2011 • Enes Kanter, Alec Burks

2010 • Gordon Hayward, Jeremy Evans

2009 • Eric Maynor

2008 • Kosta Koufos —

Last 47th picks

2011 • Travis Leslie (Los Angeles Clippers)

2010 • Tiny Gallon (Milwaukee)

2009 • Henk Norel (Minnesota)

2008 • Bill Walker (Washington)

2007 • Dominic McGuire (Washington)