Price in another battle for the backup point guard job

Published September 29, 2010 1:27 pm
Jazz notes • UVU product says competing for playing time at backup spot is part of the game.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Three years ago, it was Jason Hart. Two seasons ago, it was Brevin Knight. Last year, it was the drafting of Eric Maynor and the emergence of Sundiata Gaines. This year, it's Earl Watson.

It's never been easy for Ronnie Price to keep his status as the Jazz's back-up point guard. For Price, it's been a seemingly never-ending march of guys being brought in to take his spot, take his minutes.

The organization likes what Price brings — from his toughness to his athleticism and the ability to score. But it has always been a fight for the guard from Utah Valley University. Nothing has ever been handed to him.

"I don't really consider it a challenge," Price said Wednesday. "It's part of the game. It's the NBA. All of those guys have been brought in to make the team better and I've learned a lot from all of those guys."

Price has always been a constant. Two seasons ago, his performance against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs led Jazz coach Jerry Sloan to hint that he made a mistake not playing Price over Knight for most of the season.

He's had big games scoring, and he's had games where he's provided a spark off the bench. There have been questions as to whether he's a pure point guard, but no questions to his ability to make plays off the dribble and in the open court.

This may be Price's biggest challenge yet, however. Of all the guys brought in, Watson is arguably the most polished, the most accomplished. He's started for multiple teams, most recently the Indiana Pacers. Watson's also the same kind of scorer/high energy guy that Price has made a career out of being.

And for Price, this is a contract year, the third such season of his career. So in essence, he's playing to stay in the league.

"I've been in this position before," Price said. "The goal is to be back with the Utah Jazz. I really like it here. I have deep roots here, family here. I'm showcasing myself everyday in practice, but the goal is to be here."

Sloan's quandary

One of the biggest challenges for any NBA head coach during training camp is to find time for all of the players on the roster. Doing this, in order to take a good look at late additions is difficult.

For the Jazz, it may be especially tough in this camp so because the guys at the end of the roster have a chance to make the team.

There's Ryan Thompson, Othyus Jeffers, Gaines, Jeremy Evans and Demetrius Nichols all waiting for their chance to make an impact. And with Gaines being the fourth point guard on the roster, finding playing time could be problematic.

"The good news is that we don't need to make any decisions now," Sloan said. "We can sit back and take a look at all of these guys, and there are guys that we think can really help us."




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