Jazz have issue with Fesenko, O'Connor says
Utah Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said Monday that the team has an "issue" with center Kyrylo Fesenko, because the third-year player has yet to accept a one-year, $1 million qualifying offer.
Asked if he expects Fesenko to be signed by the start of training camp next Tuesday, O'Connor said: "I'm not optimistic or pessimistic. We just have to wait to see what happens."
Stu Lash, Fesenko's agent, would not comment when reached by phone Monday.
Fesenko, 23, averaged 2.6 points and 1.8 rebounds during 49 regular-season games for the Jazz last season. He started nine out of 10 playoff contests, averaging 3.3 points and 3.9 rebounds in 18.1 minutes.
Relatively minor contract-related issues have prolonged negotiations between Fesenko and the Jazz, turning what was expected to be a simple process into a waiting game that has dragged on for more than two and a half months. Despite the standstill, Utah provides the 7-foot, 300-pound center with an expected 10-15 minutes per game of playing time, as well as already-familiar offensive and defensive systems.
But negotiations between the sides could go on for at least another week, as Fesenko explores the free-agent market and searches for a multi-year deal for more average money with another team.
Fesenko met with Houston for two days last week, and was impressed by the team's presentation. However, the Rockets have yet to make an offer, and the Jazz have the right to match any deal.
New Orleans, Cleveland and Golden State have also shown recent interest in Fesenko.
O'Connor would not comment when asked whether a multi-year deal between the Jazz and Fesenko was still on the table. Sources close to the center with knowledge about the negotiations said that it had been pulled.
Meanwhile, O'Connor said Utah is still tinkering with its roster and possible training-camp invites a process that is being affected by the uncertainty regarding Fesenko's future with the team.
"There are some things we're looking at," O'Connor said.
The Jazz recently signed veteran center Francisco Elson, who is expected to back up starter Al Jefferson while Mehmet Okur recovers from Achilles tendon surgery. Okur could be out until at least December, though, leaving the Jazz with limited depth at the center position should the team not re-sign Fesenko.
Veteran guards Earl Watson and Mike James have also drawn interest from Utah. But O'Connor would not specifically comment when asked whether the Jazz plan to add a similar-type player before camp begins.
Brian T. Smith
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