At the time, the three transactions the Utah Jazz made back on Oct. 27, 2014, didn’t seem particularly momentous or memorable:
• Waived G Carrick Felix.
• Claimed F Jordan Hamilton off waivers.
• Claimed F Joe Ingles off waivers.
Felix, a 2013 second-round draft pick, played last year for Melbourne United of the Australian National Basketball League, and was on the Washington Wizards’ summer league roster this year. Hamilton, a 2011 first-rounder, has split this year between Turkey’s Uşak Sportif, Israel’s Hapoel Holon, and Italy’s Basket Brescia Leonessa.
That Ingles guy sounds kind of familiar, though …
He and Hamilton were brought in to compete for the team’s final roster spot. Hamilton was waived eight days later. Ingles, meanwhile, continues to make himself ever more valuable to the Jazz, going on almost four years on.
Even general manager Dennis Lindsey conceded he did not see Ingles’ performance last season coming.
“Joe Ingles taking a larger role, both on and off the court — off the court from a leadership standpoint, on the court from a usage standpoint — that was a surprise,” Lindsey said.
Ingles sought to make a more robust contribution, and seized the opportunity.
JAZZ AT KINGS
When • Thursday, 8 p.m. MDT
TV • ATTSN
He bumped his scoring up by more than 4 points per game from the previous season to a career-best 11.5. He nearly doubled his assists per game to 4.8. He also averaged a career-best 4.2 rebounds per game. And he remains one of the league’s top sharpshooters, hitting 44 percent of his 3-point tries en route to the team’s single-season record.
In 2017, he signed a four-year, $52 million deal with the Jazz. Not bad, considering his career has basically been the inverse of those other two players.
After starting off as the first player ever to sign with the NBL’s South Dragons, he moved on to Spanish club CB Granada, then FC Barcelona. He then spent a season with Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv, helping that team to the 2013-14 EuroLeague championship.
Finally, he took his shot at the NBA, going through camp with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014, only to be cut at the conclusion of the preseason schedule. Days later, he had another chance in Utah.
No wonder he goes out of his way to keep his sport in perspective.
“I just enjoy my life. I’m in a very, very fortunate position. I enjoy playing basketball, and I just enjoy life. I don’t know what everyone gets so stressed about all the time,” Ingles said. “I get to throw a ball around for a living, and come back to the kids. Life is good.”
Of course, while Ingles has a well-deserved reputation as the Jazz’s resident comedian and trash-talker, he’s also more than proved that he’s been serious about improving.
Could a bigger role yet in the offense be in the offing? Perhaps.
ABOUT JOE INGLES
• Was claimed off waivers by the Jazz in 2014, and beat out former first-round draft pick Jordan Hamilton to make the team’s regular-season roster.
• Averaged 11.5 points, 4.8 assists, and 4.2 rebounds last year for the Jazz, while shooting 44.0 percent on 3-pointers.
• After scoring 24 points vs. Toronto and putting up seven assists vs. Adelaide, he’s second on the team this preseason in scoring (13.0) and first in assists (5.3).
Ingles is second on the team in scoring this preseason, at 13.0 ppg, largely thanks to his 24-point outburst against the Toronto Raptors. Meanwhile, he’s leading Utah in assists, at 5.3. While his shot wasn’t falling against his hometown Adelaide 36ers, he still contributed by dishing seven dimes.
That Toronto game, in particular, was telling. In his first year in Utah, Ingles shot just 4.5 times per game. Against the Raptors, he launched 15 times, including going 5 for 11 on 3s.
The confidence he’s gotten from coach Quin Snyder and his teammates to fire away within the flow of the offense has made all the difference, he said.
“People who were around that first year, I was kind of hesitant and trying to find my way in the league a little bit. [But Snyder and teammates are] just kinda constantly telling me to shoot it if I’m open,” he said. “… The last couple years, to actually make shots and make them in big games, it helps. But to have a coach who believes in you, there’s not much more you can ask for.”