The Jazz’s offseason makeover took another international twist Monday, with The Salt Lake Tribune confirming the team has reached a verbal agreement to sign French forward William Howard.
No deal has yet been signed because a buyout needs to take place with Limoges, Howard’s team in the French LNB Pro A league (also known as Jeep Elite).
Meanwhile, Utah also reached a contract agreement with guard Miye Oni, whom the team selected with No. 58 overall in June’s NBA Draft.
Howard, a 25-year-old from Montbrisson, is listed as 6-foot-8 and 207 pounds. Last season for Limoges, he averaged 9.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 24.8 minutes per game in Jeep Elite play. He shot 41.1% overall and 34.0% from 3-point range.
Those numbers were down a bit from previous seasons. In 2017-18, he averaged 11.4 points and shot 48.6% overall and 39.7% from deep. In 2016-17, with Hyeres-Toulon, he averaged 9.5 points and shot 36.1% from deep.
Overall last season, in 54 games spanning Jeep Elite, Euro Cup and LNB Leaders Cup competitions, Howard averaged 9.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and and 1.4 steals, while shooting 44.3% from the field, 37.9% from deep, and 79.5% from the free-throw line.
He will add depth to a wing group that includes Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Royce O’Neale.
Howard’s addition continues Utah’s significant roster overhaul this summer.
In the lead-up to the NBA Draft, the Jazz traded Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, and Grayson Allen, plus a pair of first-round picks, to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for point guard Mike Conley. The team subsequently reached agreements with Bogdanovic and Ed Davis on the opening day of free agency, plus Jeff Green and Emmanuel Mudiay later.
The additions of Bogdanovic and Davis led the Jazz to trade long-tenured big man Derrick Favors to the New Orleans Pelicans for a pair of future second-round picks. Free agents Ricky Rubio, Raul Neto, Ekpe Udoh, and Thabo Sefolosha were all allowed to sign elsewhere.
The Jazz also reached agreement over the weekend to bring in another player from a European club, in point guard Nigel Williams-Goss. The 24-year-old Gonzaga product was the No. 55 pick of the Jazz in 2017, but was not signed then after a poor showing in Summer League play. Williams-Goss has subsequently rebuilt his game over the past two seasons in Europe, first for Partizan in Serbia, then for Olympiacos in Greece.
The Howard and Oni signings mean the Jazz will have all 15 roster spots filled for the 2019-20 season.
It remains to be seen if fellow second-round picks Jarrell Brantley (No. 50 overall) and Justin Wright-Foreman (No. 53) might land the team’s pair of available two-way contracts that enable players to split time between the NBA and the developmental G League.
Oni impressed team officials with his play in the Salt Lake City and Las Vegas summer leagues. The 6-6, 206-pound wing out of Yale apparently displayed enough 3-and-D prowess to land a roster spot. In two games in SLC, Oni averaged 9.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 2.0 steals in 27.0 minutes, despite shooting just 33% from the field. In Las Vegas, he played all five games and averaged 8.2 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists, and shot 39% overall.