NBA: Mo Williams will join Utah Jazz
29-year-old former All-Star Williams returns to the place he started.
Published: July 2, 2012 05:12PM
Updated: June 29, 2012 11:53PM
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Leah Hogsten | Tribune file photo Mo Williams was drafted by the Jazz and played for Utah during the 2003-04 season. He left as a free agent, but returned to the Jazz on Friday in a trade with the L.A. Clippers.

After an at times frustrating and ultimately quiet NBA Draft on Thursday, the Jazz were busier Friday than they’ve been in more than a year.

Veteran point guard Mo Williams opted in for the final year of his $8.5 million contract, allowing a trade that dominated Utah’s draft-day news to finally go through.

The Salt Lake Tribune first reported Williams’ decision.

ESPN initially reported the framework of a four-team trade that saw mercurial but talented forward Lamar Odom return to the Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas receive Utah’s trade exception from the Mehmet Okur deal, and Houston obtain the rights to Furkan Aldemir, originally chosen by the Clippers with the No. 53 overall pick in Thursday’s draft.

As part of the Williams trade, the Jazz sent the rights to Tadija Dragicevic (No. 53 pick in 2008 draft) to Dallas, while Utah received the rights to Shan Foster (No. 51 in 2008).

A source close to Williams said the nine-year veteran is thrilled to return to Utah, who drafted him in 2003 with the No. 47 overall pick.

Jazz General Manager Kevin O’Connor would not officially comment on the trade or the rest of Utah’s busy Friday. But the organization was glad Williams took his time before making a career-changing decision, and the Jazz will now move ahead with a unique roster featuring four point guards — starter Devin Harris, Williams, Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley.

All will enter the 2012-13 season with expiring contracts. Watson and Tinsley will compete for reserve minutes, while Harris and Williams are expected to alternate between point guard and shooting guard. As a result, Utah will be able to go small and big with a front-court heavy lineup that features Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors.

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. He played out of position during the 2011-12 season, but was a key component of a resurgent Clippers team that advanced to the Western Conference semifinals.

Williams spent his rookie season with the Jazz under then-coach Jerry Sloan. He signed a restricted free agent sheet with Milwaukee in 2004, though, and O’Connor acknowledged Thursday that not matching the offer is the worst decision he’s made since taking over Utah’s basketball operations.

O’Connor made three more moves Friday.

The Jazz officially announced they’ll pick up Tinsley’s team option next season, while Utah will also keep forward DeMarre Carroll on its initial 2012-13 roster.

The Tribune first reported the Jazz’s decision to retain the duo.

Elsewhere, Utah submitted a qualifying offer for high-jumping forward Jeremy Evans, who won the 2012 NBA All-Star dunk contest but played little last season. Evans will become a restricted free agent at 10:01 p.m. Saturday, but the Jazz will be able to match any offer he receives.

bsmith@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribjazz

Check The Tribune’s Jazz Notes blog at sltrib.com/Blogs/jazznotes for exclusive news, interviews, video and analysis.

The Mo Williams file

Position • Point guard/shooting guard

Year • 9

Vitals • 6-foot-1, 185 pounds

Stats • 13.2 points, 3.1 assists with Los Angeles Clippers (52 games, 1 start) in 2011-12

Career • 13.8 points, 4.9 assists with four teams (589 games, 432 starts)

Draft • No. 47 in 2003 by the Utah Jazz

College • Alabama

Born • Jackson, Miss.

Stacked at the 1

The Jazz’s point guards (all have expiring contracts):

Name Age Salary

Devin Harris 29 $8.5M

Mo Williams 29 $8.5M

Earl Watson 33 $2M

Jamaal Tinsley 34 $1.3M