New York • Utah Jazz center Andris Biedrins hadn’t seen playing time in a while. His last minutes came in mid-December against the Miami Heat.
But for the past two games, the veteran center has been moved to the inactive list for the first time this season for a reason other than injury or illness — and it could mean more opportunities for forward Malcolm Thomas and guard Ian Clark.
“We will get a chance to look at some more things going forward,” Jazz coach Ty Corbin said after Friday morning’s shootaround at Madison Square Garden. “That’s not saying we’re doing anything other than continuing to try to develop this group of guys. But we want to see where guys are, see what we have, and see where we go from here.”
Thomas and Clark have regularly been listed as inactive, watching games from behind the bend, dressed in suit coats.
“Very anxious,” Thomas said of awaiting his time on the court. “I’ve been working hard on just staying positive and waiting for my turn. It seems like it’s coming now. I just have to be ready when my name is called.”
Thomas had played in three games, logging a total of 17 minutes and scoring four points, before Friday night. The forward got five minutes in garbage time against the Knicks, grabbing three rebounds and missing his only shot from the field.
Clark, who turned 23 years old on Friday, is in a similar situation. The undrafted rookie out of Belmont has averaged 8 minutes in the 12 games he’s played this year. His last time on the court came Feb. 1 against the Clippers.
“It’s difficult,” he said of the lack of playing time. “Anybody who’s been in my position would say the same thing. You just find ways to deal with it. My way is to not worry about it and just keep working.”
In practice, Clark, a 6-foot-1 shooting guard, has been working on his ball-handling and play making, hoping to market himself as a true combo guard. Thomas, a self-described energy and hustle guy, is honing his jump shot while still exhibiting the skill set that got him signed by the Jazz earlier this year.
“I feel like I’m 19, 20 out there because I have so much energy,” he said. “I’m just ready to go all the time.”
Biedrins had a fan club of three at Friday’s game.
For the past several years, the Latvian big man has provided an all-expenses paid trip for the winners of a Latvian three-on-three basketball tournament. The group spent the week in New York City and attended the Knicks-Jazz game.
“They were all really excited,” Biedrins said. “All three guys who came, it was their first time in New York and obviously they are super excited.”
With a crowd of Michigan alumni in the stands, Trey Burke and his former college teammate combined to go 4 of 23 from the floor. But Tim Hardaway Jr.’s Knicks walked away with the win.