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Newest player Leslie has Corbin's number

Published March 11, 2013 11:54 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The newest member of the Utah Jazz has something in common with coach Tyrone Corbin.

After NBA Development League product Travis Leslie signed a 10-day contract with the Jazz on Sunday, he chose to wear No. 23.

When Corbin spent three seasons with the Jazz in the early 1990s, he also wore No. 23.

Whether Leslie becomes as productive in Utah as Corbin remains to be seen. But one thing is certain. He's happy to be with the Jazz.

"I'm excited," Leslie said. "It's a great opportunity to come out here and show what I can do — do whatever they need me to do."

The Los Angeles Clippers selected Leslie in the second round of the 2011 draft. He played briefly in L.A. but spent this season in the D-League with Santa Cruz, where he averaged 16.1 points and 7.4 rebounds.

"Tough kid, plays hard, worked his butt off to get here," Corbin said. "He's a strong, physical guy. We look forward to him being with us and seeing what he can do."

Leslie knows several of his new teammates, including former Clippers Mo Williams and Randy Foye.

Leslie also knows Derrick Favors and Kevin Murphy who, like him, grew up in Georgia.

"I am pretty familiar with him," Williams said. "He was my rook last year. So I took pretty good care of him, I hope."

Williams continued: "He's a hard worker. He even trained with me in the summertime — before his rookie year, after we drafted him in L.A. So I know the hard work he puts it. ... Hopefully [this] works out for him."

Williams chips away

After missing over two months because of a thumb injury that required surgery, Williams played his fourth game since Dec. 22 against Detroit on Monday night.

In the first three, he scored 18 points and had 13 assists in 78 minutes during losses to Cleveland, Chicago and New York. He shot only 7-for-27 from the field.

"I'm chipping [away]," Williams said. "It will come. I'm just doing the best I can and trying to contribute — obviously on limited minutes. But whatever minutes I get, I'm going to go out and compete. ... I'm just trying to work my way back in."

Forgetting Bell

To make room for Leslie, the Jazz waived veteran guard Raja Bell, ending a year-long exile for the veteran guard after a locker room confrontation with Corbin late last season.

Asked of the situation has been a distraction for the other players this season, Williams shook his head and said, "No, not at all. Trust me. There hasn't been a conversation — not one time throughout the season."

Corbin was more succinct.

"It's over," he said. "We're moving forward."