Unrestricted free agent forward Josh Howard has sincere interest in re-signing with the Jazz, a league source told The Salt Lake Tribune on Sunday.
Utah and seven other teams have expressed initial interest in Howard, the source said.
Yahoo! Sports reported Saturday that Dallas, Boston, San Antonio, New Jersey, the Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers have interest in Howard.
The 32-year-old Howard played 43 games (18 starts) for Utah in 2011-12. He averaged 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 23 minutes, shooting 39.9 percent from the floor and 77.3 percent from the free-throw line.
The nine-year veteran cracked the Jazz's starting lineup March 5, then returned from arthroscopic left knee surgery to start for Utah during a first-round playoff series against San Antonio.
After proving himself with the Jazz last season, Howard will seek a multiyear deal in a market that's already been inflated by big-money offers to free agents such as Roy Hibbert and Gerald Wallace.
Utah remains a strong option for Howard, though. He feels loyal to the Jazz after they stood by him in 2011-12, and negotiations between the sides are expected to begin later today.
- Two agents with clients on the 2011-12 Jazz recently told The Tribune they're open to a sign-and-trade if their players don't re-sign with Utah this summer.
- Jazz forward Paul Millsap is expected to seek a new contract worth as much or more than the four-year, $40 million deal Wallace has reportedly agreed to.
Utah General Manager Kevin O'Connor declined comment earlier this week when asked how the Jazz plan to handle Millsap's desire for an extension.
- The Jazz's recent addition of veteran Mo Williams and the fact Utah has four proven point guards on its roster has left some agents wondering what the Jazz's long-term plan and vision is.
While all felt the addition of Williams was an upgrade, they also believe Utah likely has another major move to make before its roster is finalized.
In addition, several agents wondered how the Jazz — who are over the salary cap but below the luxury tax — plan to use Gordon Hayward in the future. The talented 22-year-old has yet to be cemented at either shooting guard or small forward and bounced between both positions last season. With the Jazz initially targeting the wing position during free agency and having the full $5 million mid-level exception at their disposal, Hayward's future long-term position could sway or deter potential free agent signings.
Brian T. Smith