After arriving in Utah on Sunday evening, just happy to have a job after being waived a few days earlier by the Chicago Bulls, Erik Murphy’s tour of Salt Lake City involved little more than looking out his hotel window at the mountains in the distance.
“I haven’t really gotten to experience much of it yet,” he said the next morning to reporters seeking first impressions from the newest member of the Utah Jazz.
In just over a week, the same might be said of Murphy’s time on the court.
With just five games, and 10 days remaining, Murphy won’t have much of a chance to impress his new bosses before the season comes to a close. Instead the Jazz will likely try to give Murphy a cursory knowledge of the team’s offense and wait for summer before truly digging in.
“It would [slow down practices] if we were trying to get him a lot of stuff in and trying to get him into a lot of different sets,” Jazz coach Ty Corbin said. “But at this juncture, there’s not a lot of time.”
The Jazz like Murphy’s potential. The 6-foot-10 forward led the SEC in 3-point shooting when he was at Florida last year.
The rookie’s goals for the next two weeks are modest: “Show that I have a really good work ethic and try to fit in with the guys and get comfortable and get acclimated here.”
That work ethic had his former teammates and coaches raving.
“I’m so happy for him because he works way too hard not to be in the league,” Bulls forward Taj Gibson told the Chicago Tribune after Murphy had been claimed by the Jazz.
It’s something Murphy learned from some of the game’s finest coaches — Tom Thibodeau in Chicago and Billy Donovan at Florida — and before that by watching his father, former NBA player Jay Murphy, and his mother, Paivi Murphy, a former member of the Finnish national team.
“Basketball was kind of in my blood,” Erik Murphy said. “I’ve always been around the game. I grew up falling in love with it. Ever since I was young, I’ve always been around basketball. It’s something I’ve always loved.”
As he met the press Monday, Murphy said the right things.
“I’m going to play hard every possession,” he promised. “I’m going to defend. I’m going to rebound. I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team win.”
But he’s a big man on a team trying to develop three of them.
And minutes will be scarce.
“With the guys we have, the game we have [left], we’re developing some other guys right now and to try to interrupt that process would put you behind a little bit,” Corbin said.
But like most things this year, it’s a longer play.
“This late, it is difficult,” Corbin said. “But we have his rights. We have the summer. We’ll see how things work out the rest of the year but we’ll try to get him in there.”
Mavericks at Jazz
P At EnergySolutions Arena
Tipoff • Tuesday, 7 p.m.
TV • ROOT Sports
Radio • 97.5 FM, 1280 AM
Records • Jazz 24-53; Mavericks 47-31
About the Jazz • Waived center Andris Biedrins this weekend to make room for rookie Erik Murphy. … Coming off a 130-102 blowout loss against the Golden State Warriors. … Rookie Trey Burke scored 24 points and had 15 assists in the loss.
About the Mavericks • Looking to complete the season sweep of the Jazz. … Forward Dirk Nowitzki needs 18 points to pass Oscar Robertson for 10th place on the all-time scoring list. … Hold a half-game lead over Phoenix for the seventh playoff spot in the West.