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Okur will make Jazz's four-game trip
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

The questions continue, whether Jerry Sloan likes it or not.

Since the start of training camp in October, Sloan has been bombarded with inquiries about veteran center Mehmet Okur.

How's he doing?

When is he coming back?

How will Sloan use him when he does return from last April's Achilles surgery?

Another barrage of questions was sparked by team president Randy Rigby's assertion during a Sunday night TV show that Okur would return within two weeks.

Before Wednesday morning's practice, Sloan was once again asked about Okur.

"The only thing I've said about it is, when he's on the floor with his uniform on, that's when he's going to play," Sloan told reporters. "I haven't seen him in that position yet. ... [So] there's no need to talk about it, really."

Okur spent part of Tuesday playing two-on-two with teammates Gordon Hayward, Kyrylo Fesenko and Jeremy Evans.

"It was challenging — good," he said. "I felt good out there."

During Wednesday's rare practice, Okur planned to participate in five-on-five scrimmages. The Jazz's rigorous schedule, which included 20 games in 35 nights between Nov. 9 and Dec 13, has limited practice time and prevented Okur from more full court work.

"To be honest," Okur said, "I've only had one scrimmage in eight months. That was about five minutes a couple of weeks ago because we've had such a hard schedule."

Okur said he will accompany the Jazz on their upcoming four-game trip to New Orleans, Milwaukee, Cleveland and Minnesota.

But will he play?

"I don't know," he said, smiling. "... I'll let you know."

Jazz visit Shriners

Jazz players, coaches and staff members made their annual holiday visit to Primary Children's Medical Center and Shriners Hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

It is a tradition started by the Jazz shortly after the franchise moved to New Orleans to Utah before the 1979-80 season.

"You feel like you bring something to the kids," said Andrei Kirilenko. "You bring something to all the people in the hospitals. You help them feel the Christmas spirit a little bit, maybe."

According to Kirilenko, the players "... enjoy going. Sometime people think you're tired from playing all the games. But it does not affect these visits."

Bell a game-time decision

Guard Raja Bell has missed three straight games because of an abductor strain.

His availability for Friday's trip opener at New Orleans will a game-time decision.

In Bell's place, Hayward has started and scored one point in 40 foul-plagued minutes.

"He's struggled a little bit," Sloan said. "But that's part of the process players have to go through.

"He's just got to continue to work and keep trying to get better. Expectations sometimes throws a monkey wrench into everything. ... You just have to work through it."

Evans has a fan

Asked about the play of second-round draft pick Jeremy Evans, Deron Williams smiled.

Evans scored nine points and grabbed three rebounds in nine minutes during Monday's 108-95 win over Golden State.

"He's been great," Williams said. "Very confident. And every time he gets out there, he makes the most of his opportunities.

"Every time he gets into the game, he gets a quick bucket, some rebounds, a big block. He's been making the most of his minutes." —

Jazz at New Orleans

P Friday, 6 p.m.

TV • FSN Utah

Jazz notes • But whether he will play is uncertain, Sloan says.
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