Jazz Notes: At pre-draft workout, Illinois guard at Head of the class
Illinois' Luther Head came to Utah hoping to show off some point guard skills.
He did it, according to Jazz vice president of basketball operations Kevin O'Connor.
Head is a 6-foot-3 guard who did not handle the basketball much during his college career. He was more of a scorer on a team that also included pro-caliber guards Deron Williams and Dee Brown.
As a result, Head has spent the last couple of months trying to convince scouts that he can be a nice-sized combo guard -- not strictly an undersized shooting guard -- in the NBA.
That's why Head joined Rutgers' Ricky Shields, Alabama-Birmingham's Donnell Taylor and Syracuse's Josh Pace for a pre-draft workout for the Jazz on Thursday that had O'Connor smiling.
"That was a terrific workout," he said. "Those kids really competed."
Asked if Head possesses the skills to be an NBA point guard, coach Jerry Sloan said, "Maybe he can play both [positions]. The thing is, if a guy can play basketball, there will be a place for him. It looks to me like he can play in this league."
Shields, an explosive scorer whose stock has been rising in recent weeks, also played well and could have put himself on the Jazz's radar screen. Utah has the sixth, 27th, 34th and 51st picks in the June 28 draft.
The Jazz plan to bring in four more players today, including Martell Webster of Seattle Prep High. He is the first player expected to be taken in the lottery who has visited Utah for a pre-draft workout. Utah Valley State's Ronnie Price will also participate.
Lopez may want out
Jazz point guard Raul Lopez, coming off another injury-shortened season, could be leaving Utah and the NBA.
According to Spanish newspaper reports, Lopez is considering a four-year offer from Akasvaya Girona.
Lopez has one year left on his contract, meaning some negotiating probably would have to occur before he could play in Spain.
The Jazz could agree to let Lopez walk away, or they could seek a buyout.
O'Connor says he hasn't spoken to Lopez lately.
Marc Cornstein, Lopez's agent, could not be reached for comment.
O'Connor denied a DraftExpress.com report that the Jazz had promised to use the 27th pick in the first round on Cincinnati power forward Jason Maxiell.
Asked if the Jazz make promises to potential draftees, O'Connor said, "No."
Asked if they had made any kind of commitment to Maxiell, who worked out for the team two weeks ago, O'Connor said, "We made no promises -- none -- to Jason Maxiell."
Maxiell is considered a second-round pick. But he pulled out of the Chicago camp after one day, fueling speculation that he might have gotten a promise from a team about his draft position.
Agent Richard Katz told the Web site Maxiell left Chicago for personal reasons.
In no hurry to hire
With the threat of a lockout hanging over the NBA, the Jazz aren't in any hurry to fill the coaching position vacated last week when Gordon Chiesa accepted a job with the New Jersey Nets.
NBA owners plan to lock out the players on July 1 if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached.
Apparently, there has been plenty of interest from possible candidates about replacing Chiesa, but the Jazz seem more concerned about preparing for the draft.
"Kevin certainly has more pressing issues that he's dealing with right now," Sloan said. "... [But] a lot of wonderful people have asked about the job, and we're flattered by that."
No, former Jazz All-Star Karl Malone has not inquired about coming back to Utah as a coach.
Said Sloan: "I'd hire him to play a little bit of power forward for me, but..."