Chicago — Jazz guard Raja Bell didn't fly with the team from Philadelphia to Chicago for a Saturday game against the Bulls, and coach Tyrone Corbin wouldn't officially comment about Bell's absence.
Utah has officially listed Bell as inactive versus Chicago due to an internal matter. When a player leaves a team for personal reasons, their absence is normally classified as such.
Messages left Saturday for Bell's agent, Herb Rudoy, were not immediately returned.
Corbin became slightly confrontational during a pregame media interview when asked about Bell's status and eventually refused to answer further questions about him.
Utah's Al Jefferson and Earl Watson said, to the best of their knowledge, Bell is dealing with a personal matter and nothing abnormal happened after Utah fell to the 76ers on Friday and before the Jazz arrived in Chicago early Saturday.
Bell was coolheaded and unemotional after the Philly loss, saying he fully supported Utah rookie guard Alec Burs, who played the final 10:03 while Bell sat on the bench.
Excerpts from pregame media interviews Saturday:
Was Bell at the Saturday morning team meeting: No. He's not with us. Internal matters, that's all I want to say about it.
One-game situation: [Saturday night?] Yeah.
Expect Bell to be ready for Detroit: Yeah. We hope so. We hope so.
Ongoing situation with Bell or it just happened: It's an internal matter. Why is it ongoing? No.
Any expected distraction because of Bell's absence: No. No distraction. I wouldn't expect so. We've got the Bulls and that's enough distraction for everybody. [Laughs]
Optimistic situation will be resolved soon: Yeah, I think it will.
Consult with team management: No comment. I don't want to talk about it anymore. All right?
I think anytime something like that happens it's obviously personal. Whatever's going on, you just wish the best for him and hope it all works itself out. I haven't had a chance to talk to him yet.
I didn't see him [Saturday] morning. We'll see what happens from here.
I've been in the NBA for 11 years, I've seen a lot. In college this would've been surprising. But in my 11 years, nothing's surprising. Just take it as it goes.
He seemed cool but I didn't talk to him a lot after the game. A lot of times we live in our own world, even though we're in the same world.
I just thought he had some other reason, some other matter going on. That's what I thought. … That's the way it was [presented] to me. I didn't know nothing else was going on. I don't nothing like bad happened or nothing like that. That's my opinion. Whatever's going on with him, I hope everything work out.
Brian T. Smith
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