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Aaron Falk and Steve Luhm cover the Utah Jazz and the NBA for The Salt Lake Tribune. The Tribune on Twitter - Aaron Falk: @tribjazz, Steve Luhm: @sluhm

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Jazz pick up C.J. Miles' option for 2011-12 season

C.J. Miles is sticking around.

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The Jazz picked up his $3.7 million team option for the 2011-12 season on Wednesday. He would have become an unrestricted free agent if Utah declined the option.

"Thank all the fans for the support and the organization for belief that [I] can help this team. ... Now I'm back to work," Miles said on his Twitter account.

The Jazz also picked up options for Gordon Hayward ($2.7 million) and Derrick Favors ($4.7 million) during the 2012-13 season. Utah holds team options on both players through 2013-14, while the duo possess player options in 2014-15.

Miles, 24, has played all six of his NBA seasons for the Jazz. The 6-foot-6, 232-pound small forward was selected by Utah with the No. 34 overall pick in 2005 out of Skyline (Dallas) High School.

Miles averaged career highs last year in points (12.8), rebounds (3.3) and minutes (25.2), playing in 78 games and starting 19. He scored a career-high 40 points March 16 against Minnesota, shooting 14 of 18 from the field and 6 of 7 behind the 3-point line. Miles averaged 17.1 points during 14 games in March, scoring in double digits in each contest.

He split time between the small forward and shooting guard positions, and is expected to compete with Raja Bell, Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks for minutes and shots next season.

By picking up Miles' option, the Jazz have likely finalized an 11-man roster heading into either a lockout or free agency. And Miles has received another chance to prove his worth to Utah.

"We're expecting big things," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "He's still a young kid, but we think he can step up and help others with his experience. … He's very versatile and can do different things for us. He can change the game when he's committed, and he's got a lot of talent."

Miles has also been plagued by inconsistency.

His production dropped off in April, as he struggled with his shot and place on the team under Corbin, who took over midseason for Jerry Sloan. Miles was just 8 of 32 from the field during a three-game stretch from April 3-7, and connected on only 16.7 percent of his 3s during his final six games of the season. Corbin openly challenged Miles during the slump, questioning his dedication to both sides of the game, and the forward's season ended April 13 against Denver with a did-not-play mark due to a left knee injury.

The decline captured the unpredictable duality of Miles' season and career. He singlehandedly carried Utah to a come-from-behind 103-94 road victory against Portland on Nov. 20, 2010. Miles was 7 of 10 beyond the arc, pouring in 25 points while knocking down a series of breathtaking shots. But he hit just 40.7 percent of his field goals and 32.2 percent of his 3s during the year, recording lows not touched since his 2006-07 campaign. Miles also struggled with his confidence during training camp and throughout the season, and was shaken by the unexpected midseason trade of longtime friend Deron Williams.

Miles is one of the few holdovers from the Sloan-era, joining longtime teammates Paul Millsap and Mehmet Okur. Andrei Kirilekno and Ronnie Price are free agents, and face questionable returns to the team.

Miles will now be given the opportunity to carve out a new identity. While Corbin has challenged the forward, he has also stuck by him. When hot, Miles is still the Jazz's premier long-range shooter. And his unique blend of athleticism, youth mixed with experience and still untapped potential could make him a key component of Utah's rebuilding process.

Miles walked out of his 2010-11 exit interview declaring that this was the most important offseason of his career. He's been given another year to show the Jazz that he deserves to stick around for the long term.

"It'll be good to have him back," Corbin said.

Brian T. Smith

Twitter: @tribjazz

bsmith@sltrib.com

facebook.com/tribjazz

Press release:

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has elected to exercise its fourth-year team option on guard/forward C.J. Miles’ contract for the 2011-12 season, as well as the rookie contract options for forwards Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward for the 2012-13 season. Per team policy, financial terms were not released.

A six-year NBA veteran, Miles (6-6, 232, Skyline H.S. (TX)), appeared in 78 games (19 starts) for the Jazz in 2010-11, averaging career-highs in points (12.8), rebounds (3.3), assists (1.7) and minutes (25.2) and improving in all four categories for the fourth straight season. Miles scored in double figures in 50 games, tallying 20+ points on 16 occasions including a career-high 40 points (14-18 FG, 6-7 3FG) in a win over Minnesota on March 16. Originally selected by the Jazz in the second round (34th overall) of the 2005 NBA draft, Miles has appeared in 333 career games (145 starts), all with Utah, and owns career averages of 8.3 points and 2.2 rebounds.

Selected third overall in the 2010 NBA Draft by New Jersey, Favors appeared in 78 games (27 starts) for the Jazz and Nets as a rookie, averaging 6.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 0.87 blocks in 19.7 minutes per game. The 6-10, 246-pound forward out of Georgia Tech was acquired by Utah from New Jersey on February 23 and appeared in 22 games (four starts) for the Jazz, averaging 8.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 20.2 minutes. The 19-year-old Atlanta native was the youngest player in the NBA this past season and scored in double figures 20 times and had 10+ rebounds on seven occasions, posting two double-doubles. Favors ranked first among all NBA rookies in blocks, fifth in rebounding and eighth in scoring and was selected to the 2010-11 T-Mobile NBA All-Rookie Second Team.

Hayward, the Jazz’s first-round pick in the 2010 Draft (selected ninth overall) appeared in 72 games (17 starts) for Utah, averaging 5.4 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 16.9 minutes. The 6-8, 208-pound Butler product scored in double figures 15 times, including seven times in his final 10 games, and tallied a career-high 34 points against Denver (4/13), the most by a Jazz rookie since March 16, 1983. Hayward led the NBA in three-point percentage over the final two-plus months of the season, connecting on 26-of-48 (.542) three-point attempts in his final 27 games (February 9 – April 13).



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