As it turns out, the Jazz roster may have been too deep. And a veteran contributor became a casualty.
The Jazz waived forward Jonas Jerebko Saturday morning, the team announced, creating a roster spot a few months ahead of training camp, and saving the club a little over $4 million. Jerebko would have been guaranteed a spot on the roster if he was on the roster past Monday.
Depth is a significant reason for the move, league sources told The Salt Lake Tribune.
With the Jazz trading for Jae Crowder in February and guaranteeing Thabo Sefolosha’s contract, there would have been scant playing time available for Jerebko in the upcoming season. Derrick Favors along with Crowder and Sefolosha make up the depth at power forward. If the Jazz go small, they envision Joe Ingles and Royce O’Neale playing a bit there as well.
Jerebko is too good a player to be essentially the 15th man on the roster, which is a big reason for the move. He was a key piece for the Jazz last season in large stretches, especially when Utah suffered multiple injuries. He averaged 5.8 points and 3.3 rebounds off the bench for the Jazz. He served as a shooting big man who could come in and stretch the floor. He was able to play power forward and center as well.
The Jazz currently have $116 million committed to their roster, so waiving Jerebko creates some breathing room from the luxury tax threshold. The Jazz anticipate having an open roster spot, which sources say will likely go to a young player who understands he will play only situational minutes.
Utah could scour the free agent market for such a player, armed with its mid-level exception. Or, the Jazz could look in-house to fill the role. Georges Niang and Naz Mitrou-Long have both been impressive during summer league and both have a year of experience in the Jazz system.
The Jazz still have to decide on whether or not they will guarantee Ekpe Udoh’s contract. There is strong indication they will do so.