The Jazz may keep 16 players on the roster until after Thursday night's preseason game

Published October 22, 2006 1:13 am

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He can't give all 16 of his current players a roster spot, but Jerry Sloan is trying to give a few of them a decent parting gift: bragging rights.

"Twenty years down the line, they can say, 'I just about made it. I was the last guy cut,' " Sloan said of the two or three players who eventually will be left behind. "I wish I could keep them all, but that's not how it works."

Sloan will carry all 16 players for at least the next three days, taking the full roster to games in Portland on Monday and Denver on Tuesday. (Actually, only 15 players are with the team - guard Derek Fisher remained in Salt Lake to let his sore pelvis heal.)

Decision day will come by the end of the week, though perhaps not until the Jazz play their final preseason game, at home against Indiana on Thursday. At least one player among a group that includes forwards Roger Powell and Hiram Fuller and guards Dee Brown and Brian Chase will be thanked, but released.

Powell is the most likely to stick, since roughly one-third of his contract is guaranteed. Since the Jazz have to pay him for the first two months of the season, there is no incentive to let him go. He's also made a positive impression with his attitude and enthusiasm.

One of the guards will probably make the team, too, and that competition remains very close. In fact, Chase and Brown have played an identical 45 minutes in the preseason, and they are each shooting an identical (and subpar) 35.7 percent from the field, though Chase has attempted twice as many shots. Brown, a second-round pick, has eight assists in his appearances, while Chase, a free agent, has two. But Brown also has committed twice as many turnovers as Chase, eight to four.

"These guys have worked very hard, and they deserve to stay until we're sure about them," Sloan said. "I hope I've given everyone a fair shot. It isn't going to be easy to let someone go. It never is."