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Utah Jazz won’t renew Travis Leslie’s 10-day contract

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(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Travis Leslie (left) and Kevin Murphy (right) warm up before the Utah Jazz vs. The Memphis Grizzlies at EnergySolutions Arena, Saturday, March 16, 2013.

By Bill Oram

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Mar 19 2013 01:42PM
Updated Mar 19, 2013 11:22PM

Travis Leslie emerged from the locker room before practice in sweats. He walked over to the few players and coaches already on the court. He shook hands and disappeared back into the locker room and back to the D-League.

Ten days after it began for Leslie, his stint as a member of the Utah Jazz was over.

The Jazz opted not to sign Leslie to a second 10-day contract after the athletic D-League All-Star Game MVP, who before his call-up played for the Santa Cruz Warriors, did not appear in a game in a brief stint with the team.

"He did nothing wrong," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We made sure he understood that. I got a chance to see him and his body around our group of guys. He’s a good guy. Hopefully down the road there may be another opportunity."

Jazz general manager DennisLindsey said, "We haven’t closed the door on Travis," and that the team remains interested in bringing the former University of Georgia guard back for mini camps, summer leagues or training camp.

"We’re going to continue to closely evaluate him in Santa Cruz as we are many D-League players," Lindsey said.

The Jazz roster stands at 14 players, and Lindsey said the Jazz will go to work on deciding how to fill that spot. Lindsey said that will be a collaborative decision, including input from executive vice president and head scout David Fredman.

"That’s going to be one of the topics," Lindsey said, "who else we want to consider, whether it would be a 10-day or just the rest of the season."

Leslie was active for only one game with the Jazz, a March 11 win over the Detroit Pistons at home. In 28 games for Santa Cruz, the D-League affiliate of the Golden State Warriors, Leslie averaged 16.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.

Lowe’s court date delayed

Jazz assistant Sidney Lowe traveled with the team Tuesday to Houston after a court appearance in North Carolina was postponed until May 29.

Lowe, in his second season as a Jazz assistant, was arrested in Wake Forest, N.C., on Feb. 18 on charges that he failed to file state income tax returns in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Lowe was a star guard on the North Carolina State team that won the 1983 NCAA national championship — and was featured in an ESPN documentary last weekend — and returned to coach the program in 2006. He never found the same success he had as a player, however, finishing with an 86-78 68 record.

Ageless Thomas

In the Jazz’s frustrating 90-73 loss to the New York Knicks on Monday at EnergySolutions Arena, perhaps the most astonishing development was the play of 40-year-old forward KurtThomas. The 18th-year pro finished with a balanced six points, three rebounds, three blocks and two assists in a season-high 27 minutes. The New York Times credited him with providing "the spark the Knicks needed after losing their previous four games by an average of 20 points."

While the basketball world seems to be amazed by Thomas’ longevity, one person not surprised was Corbin. The Jazz coach was Thomas’ teammate for half a season in 1996 with the Miami Heat.

"That was a long time ago," the 50-year-old Corbin said, drawing out the word long. "I remember him more as a coach now. Kurt’s always been a really, really, really tough player. That half year in Miami, he was a young cat and he’s a mean, really, really good rebounder."

At 40 years, 162 days, Thomas is the league’s oldest player, one day older than Clippers forward Grant Hill.

Corbin described Thomas as "a competitor in everything and loved to play, and I can see why he’s still playing now — he just loves to play the game."

boram@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribjazz

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