Kyle Collinsworth is a 28-year-old Provo native whose professional basketball career includes a pair of stops in the G League and 32 games with the Dallas Mavericks.
Stanton Kidd, 27, hails from Baltimore, and has played in Belgium, Germany, and Turkey.
And 25-year-old Frenchman William Howard has thus far spent his entire pro career with teams in his home country.
In spite of their wildly different backgrounds, they’ve been brought together via their pursuit of a singular goal — making an NBA roster.
Problem is, they’re three guys competing for one spot with the Utah Jazz.
Each NBA team is allowed to carry between 13 and 15 players, and to sign a pair of “two-way” players who can split time between the top club and its G League affiliate. Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, Jeff Green, Danté Exum, Ed Davis, Emmanuel Mudiay, Georges Niang, Tony Bradley, and Miye Oni will make the team. Nigel Williams-Goss seems a good bet to do so as well. Meanwhile, second-round picks Jarrell Brantley and Justin Wright-Foreman have the two-way deals.
Those other guys can all do the math. So they just go out there, practice and play hard, and hope for the best.
“I’ve been in these situations where it’s not in my favor, but I just take it day by day, stay present,” Collinsworth said. “If you keep thinking ahead, you get anxious a little bit, so I just stay in the moment and enjoy playing basketball.”
The former Provo High School and BYU star joined the Jazz just a few days ago, after the Salt Lake City Stars acquired his rights from fellow G League team Raptors 905, and he signed a nonguaranteed deal.
A 6-foot-6, 210-pound wing, he holds the NCAA Division I men’s record for career triple-doubles. That helped him land a two-way deal with the Dallas Mavericks and the affiliated Texas Legends. He wound up seeing action in 32 games (and starting two) for the Mavs, averaging 3.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in 15.0 minutes per game. He shot 38.4% from the field and 23.5% from deep.
After signing a training camp deal last fall with the Toronto Raptors, he wound up playing for Raptors 905. Now, he’s trying for an NBA spot once again. And while he hopes his one-through-four versatility works in his favor, he also knows there’s a possibility he could wind up with the Stars instead. He nevertheless agreed that being back in his home state as a member of the team he grew up watching and loving was, indeed, surreal.
“Yeah, it is. I’ve really admired from afar [coach] Quin Snyder and the way he carries the organization and the way they play,” Collinsworth said. “I’m just excited to be able to make some magic happen.”
Kidd, meanwhile, is still waiting on his first NBA opportunity.
After two years at South Plains College, and then one apiece with North Carolina Central and Colorado State, he made his way to Europe, playing a season with Belgian team Limburg United, then a season with the German club Tigers Tübingen, followed by two years in Turkey playing for Darüşşafaka.
That earned Kidd (6-7, 215) an invite to the Jazz’s Summer League roster, where he showed off NBA-level wing defense that then earned him a training camp invite. Veteran big man Ed Davis cited Kidd as one of the pleasant surprises of camp, saying, “I definitely think he has a position in this league.” He has played in all four of the Jazz’s preseason games thus far, averaging 4.3 points and 1.8 rebounds, while shooting 41.2% overall. Kidd noted that the physicality of the game is comparable in Europe, though the speed of the game is not.
Kidd, whose lockers at both Vivint Arena and the Zions Bank Basketball Campus practice facility are immediately next to Davis’, said that while the tenuousness of his position is difficult, he’s received plenty of encouragement and advice from the team’s veterans — including a few who’ve been in his position before.
“It’s tough, it’s always on your mind, but at the end of the day you gotta know it’s just basketball,” he said. “The biggest thing is you’ve just got to be you. That’s what all these guys have been telling me, from Jeff down to Donovan on to Joe. All these guys — Royce, who went through it himself, Georges, all these guys are telling me, ‘Just be you. Be yourself. If you can be yourself every day, it’ll work out for you.’”
Howard, meanwhile, remains something of a mystery to Jazz fans. After attending high school at New Hope Academy in Forestville, Md., he returned to France in 2012 to turn pro.
There, he has played for the likes of Gravelines-Dunkerque, Denain Voltaire, Hyères-Toulon, and, most recently, Limoges. The lanky 6-8, 207-pounder came to Salt Lake City in July with a reputation as a sharpshooter, and he’s done nothing to disprove that label thus far, averaging 6.7 points and 2.0 rebounds while shooting 57.1% overall and 37.5% from deep in three preseason games.
While he said he has no idea what his odds are of ultimately making the team, he’s enjoyed the experience, and intends to just keep doing what he’s asked to.
“They say they like what they see, but I have to keep working. I have to improve on the defensive end especially,” Howard said. “… I’ve been working really hard, I’m feeling good physically. My chances? I don’t know. I’m just staying focused on the basketball part, and what I can control. Just going to keep working, and I will wait for the decision.”