Collins to sit out with shoulder injury
If Kevin O'Connor had waited until today to call Ben Handlogten and offer him a job, it would have been too late. The newest Jazz big man had already lined up a new job, and bought a plane ticket. He was headed to the airport this morning to fly to Turkey.
Instead, he will wear a practice uniform with his new, and old, NBA team. Handlogten passed most of his physical exam Tuesday night and, assuming nothing changes today, will sign a 10-day contract with the Jazz.
Jarron Collins, sidelined by a sore right shoulder, went on the injured list to make room.
"I set a time frame in my mind for how long I was going to stay [in the U.S.]. After that I was going to go ahead and get something in Europe, start playing again," said Handlogten, who played 17 games for the Jazz last season before tearing a ligament in his right knee in December 2003. "Then Kevin called [Monday] night.
O'Connor, the Jazz's senior vice president of basketball operations, had also called in December, when the Jazz worked out the 6-foot-10 center, a surprise survivor of Utah's 2003 training camp. But Handlogten's knee had not fully recovered from reconstructive surgery, and he was far from NBA physical shape.
"At the time, I thought I was closer [to being ready] than what I was," said Handlogten, who averaged 4.0 points and 3.2 rebounds as a 30-year-old rookie last season. The failed tryout "gave me a chance to go home and iron some things out, get my legs under me more, get in better shape, get stronger. I'm feeling a lot better, more stable. There's less swelling in my knees. I've lost weight. I think I'm ready."
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan hopes so. "We just thought he's a guy who has an idea of what we're trying to do," Sloan said. "A guy like that can fit in a little quicker."
Three days after slamming his shoulder into another player, Collins feels fine. Perfectly OK. Well, except he can't raise his arms over his head - which makes rebounding a lot more difficult.
The injury isn't serious, an MRI exam confirmed Monday, and should just gradually go away. But that will take a week or maybe two, and with the front line already thin, the Jazz decided to sideline Collins in order to make room Handlogten.
"I've never had an injury like this before," said Collins, who still is wearing his right arm in a sling. "I'm surprised at how long it's taking to get back to normal."
The injury, Collins' doctor told him, "will be with me the rest of the season," he said.
There may be an opportunity for Handlogten to stick around more than 10 days, too. Sloan said Carlos Boozer's foot is still painful, and "it's going to be probably a little while before he's healthy, from what I understand." No decision has been made yet about whether Boozer, who injured his foot Feb. 14 in Phoenix and has not played since, will accompany the Jazz on their five-game Eastern Conference trip which begins Sunday. "That will be up to him," Sloan said. "If he's getting healthy enough to play, we want him back."