Utah Jazz: As time runs out, camp invitees hope to make impression
Tyrone Corbin goes through the list of players and their attributes almost like he's reading it.
Trey Gilder really can shoot the ball. Chris Quinn can make plays for himself in the high pick and roll. Brian Butch is a big man who can make perimeter shots. Darnell Jackson is a large man who plays like he's even bigger.
These are all things that should be enough for the four players to carve out spots in the NBA. But there are only 450 of those spots. What Corbin says next underscores the harsh realities for training camp invitees on the fringe of NBA careers.
"They all have served their purpose of being here," Corbin said, "and we'll enjoy the time we have with them."
That time, however, likely is short. The Jazz reach the midway point of the exhibition season Tuesday against the Lakers at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. They open the regular season in 15 days. Given the current makeup of the Jazz roster 14 are players under contract it's tough to see how Gilder, Quinn, Butch or Jackson can stick with the Jazz, especially since the team traditionally keeps only 14 players on its roster.
"The toughest part is really the uncertainty," Butch said. "You're living out of hotels and those sorts of things. The biggest thing that you want to do is wait for your opportunity, and that's what it is. You never know when it's going to come and you want to make sure that you're ready for it when you get that opportunity."
Butch has played in China, Germany and Greece, as well as Bakersfield, Calif., since leaving Wisconsin in 2008.
The Jazz specifically brought in players at every position, including second-round draft pick Kevin Murphy at shooting guard, to provide temporary depth and potential auditions for fill-in opportunities if rotation players get hurt.
But the understudies don't know if they will stick in the NBA this season, wind up in the D-League or in any one of the of countries with professional basketball teams.
And you thought Paul Millsap's future was uncertain.
None of the Jazz's camp invitees is an NBA long shot fresh out of school, as is commonly seen around the league, or a talentless 7-footer. These players all have prior NBA experience. Quinn has played in 234 games over five seasons in Miami, New Jersey and San Antonio.
"I've had some experiences that I can use to my advantage," Quinn said. "I've been on non-guarantees, I've been on guarantees, I've been a starter, I've been inactive. So at this point, I just try to control what I can control."
What he can't control is the presence of three veteran point guards ahead of him on the depth chart and two combo guards (Randy Foye and Alec Burks) whom Corbin has said he wants to see at the point. Last year, Jamaal Tinsley made the team as a training camp invitee.
Gilder spent last training camp with the Jazz before the lockout-shortened season and felt like he had a leg up this year, knowing the system from his brief dalliance in 2011.
Quinn, Jackson and Butch all are married, have children or both, which further complicates life on the road with an uncertain home base.
"It becomes a challenge for your family trying to exactly figure where you're going to be," Quinn said.
When playing for a team like the Jazz, which is unlikely to keep any of its invitees into the regular season, the preseason essentially becomes a showcase opportunity, whether it's for the Jazz or anyone else who takes notice.
"Since I've been in the league," Jackson said, "I've always been told that there's other teams and other scouts watching. When we do get the opportunity, you've got to make the best of it."
And that is at the heart of what Corbin said he wants from each of those players.
"They're not here as a gift to anybody," he said. "They're here because they work hard, they kind of fit what we're doing now. We'll see where things go from there."
Training camp invitees
Chris Quinn • Point guard; seventh year out of Notre Dame
Darnell Jackson • Power forward; fifth year out of Kansas
Brian Butch • Power forward; fifth year out of Wisconsin
Trey Gilder • Small forward; fifth year out of Northwestern State
Jazz at Lakers
P Tuesday, 8 p.m.
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