The Jazz are expected to make official today 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 today, 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, 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 7-2 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 2.9 points and 1.1 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."
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.
"Right now, I'm still learning," he said. "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."
Gaines will make $215,336 from the prorated rookie minimum for the rest of the season, on top of the $53,834 he already has made.
Tough to take
Yes, Carlos Boozer played on a 17-65 team his first season in Cleveland in 2002-03, which did position the Cavaliers to draft James. But Boozer admitted it would take a major leap to sign with a three-win team such as the Nets as a free agent this summer.
"I think anybody that wants to win, it would be tough to walk into a situation like that," Boozer said.
The Nets have lost by an average of 19.6 points during their current 11-game losing streak. Their 33-point loss Saturday, though, was their worst of the season. ... Kosta Koufos had four turnovers in nine minutes of action in the fourth quarter. ... Asked if he could fathom playing on a 3-40 team, Williams said: "I've never been in that situation, but I hate to lose, so I can imagine what those guys are going through. You know you're not going to make the playoffs, so it's kind of hard to not think about that."