Jazz forward Paul Millsap, a former second-round draft pick who evolved into a franchise cornerstone, could play his last home game at EnergySolutions Arena on Friday night.
Millsap is one of nine players on Utah’s roster who is not under contract for next season.
If the Jazz don’t make the playoffs and Millsap does not re-sign this summer, the game against Minnesota will be his farewell.
Before practice Thursday morning, Millsap told reporters he had not considered the possibility.
When asked about it, however, he said, “It’s been a long road — a long time being here. I’ve seen a lot and met some great people. Everybody I met has been a part of my growth and me getting better as a player and a person. So I owe a lot to this community and this organization.”
Millsap could reach a career milestone against the Timberwolves. With 516 blocked shots, he needs two more to pass Ben Poquette for sixth place on the Jazz’s all-time list.
If he gets there, Millsap will trail only Mark Eaton (3,064), Andrei Kirilenko (1,380), Greg Ostertag (1,253), Karl Malone (1,125) and Thurl Bailey (879).
“He’s been a true pro,” said coach Tyrone Corbin. “... He’s been a great teammate and great member of this community.”
Corbin praised Millsap’s work ethic and ability to expand his game since the Jazz took him with the 47th pick of the 2006 draft.
“He’s done a great job of understanding what he needed to do to be effective in this league,” Corbin said.
No charity at stripe
If the best things in life are free, somebody needs to tell the Jazz.
With three games remaining, Utah is on track to attempt its fewest number of free throws in an 82-game season since 1979-80. Going into the Minnesota game, the Jazz have taken 1,817 free throws. That’s 126 fewer than any Utah team has attempted in 34 years, not including the lockout-shortened seasons of 1998-99 and 2010-11.
In the past three games against Oklahoma City, New Orleans and Golden State, the Jazz have taken a total of 32 free throws. They didn’t shoot any in the first half against the Warriors. They shot three in the first half against the Thunder.
“We need to get to the free-throw line more,” Corbin said. “We can do that by driving and attacking the basket. ... It’s a concern, especially with us being an inside team.”
Marvin Williams, Burks should return
Marvin Williams (stomach flu) and Alec Burks (sprained ankle) missed Tuesday night’s 90-80 loss to Oklahoma City.
Both are expected to play against Minnesota.
Burks was injured last week against New Orleans, when he grabbed a rebound but landed on the foot of Hornets guard Xavier Henry.
“I never hurt my ankle before,” said Burks, who missed two games because of the injury. “It’s tough, man. Your teammates are out there fighting, and you want to be fighting with them. It’s tough to watch.”