Jazz expected to sign Gaines for season
The Jazz are expected to make official this weekend what has been anticipated ever since Sundiata Gaines hit the shot of the season to beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 14.
With Gaines' second 10-day contract set to expire Sunday, the Jazz are expected to sign the rookie point guard for the rest of the season. Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor telegraphed those intentions Saturday, saying of Gaines, "I think the body of work has been good."
It would complete a meteoric rise for Gaines, who went undrafted out of Georgia and was making $19,000 with the NBA Development League's Idaho Stampede before he was called up by the Jazz earlier this month.
The Jazz have gone 6-2 since his arrival, with Gaines saying, "My main thing was to bring energy, and I definitely saw a little jump of energy with the team, so that's a plus." Gaines has played in seven games and averaged 3.0 points and 1.0 assists.
O'Connor said the Jazz preferred maintaining continuity with the team rather than auditioning No. 3 point guards the remainder of the season. "I think our DNA is that that's what we'd rather do and that's what coach would rather do," O'Connnor said.
Gaines has been embraced by his teammates since his buzzer-beating three-pointer delivered the Jazz a 97-96 victory over Cleveland and touched off a wild celebration at EnergySolutions Arena.
"I think he's done a great job," Deron Williams said. "He's coach's type of guy. He doesn't say much, works hard."
O'Connor said Gaines made an impression beyond his endlessly replayed shot, citing the defense he played against Mo Williams in the fourth quarter of the Cleveland game as well as some of the baskets he set up off the pick-and-roll down the stretch.
For his part, Gaines was confident heading into the final game of his second 10-day, saying: "Right now, I'm still learning. I'm feeling my way out in the offense. As the season goes on, if I'm still here, the more comfortable I get, then my game will open up even more."