Georges Niang excitedly called his mother first. Then, he dialed his uncle up. Finally, he texted his father, who is living abroad.
Niang, a versatile forward, and the Utah Jazz reached an agreement on a multiyear deal Friday evening. The first year will be fully guaranteed, league sources tell The Tribune. The Jazz will hold a team option on Niang following next season.
“I’m just so ecstatic,” Niang told The Tribune on Friday night. “To have a team believe in me and to go through the process. For them to invest time and money in me, it speaks volumes on who the Jazz are. The NBA was always where I wanted to be. Being able to get back there was huge.
Niang, who has been perhaps the best player for Utah during summer league, is expected to occupy Utah’s 15th and final roster spot on opening night, according to Tribune sources.
The move has been in the making, with the Jazz waiving veteran forward Jonas Jerebko because they wanted the final roster spot to go to a younger player they could develop.
Niang has been that, and more since first joining the organization last season. The organization was impressed with how well he played for the Salt Lake City Stars, their G League affiliate, making the all-star team as a power forward. Following the season, Niang underwent a rigorous workout regimen, losing weight and toning his body.
“Me and my agent, we had conversations on how I could better myself and be more appealing to teams,” Niang said. “My overall goal was to take it day-by-day. I felt the need to improve and to try and take it from there.”
With Niang’s signing, the Jazz are nearly finished with their offseason. They have filled 15 roster spots and have invited guard Jairus Lyles to training camp on an Exhibit 10 contract. They also can hand out a pair of two-way contracts — and Niang is an example of a player who made his way through the Jazz’ G League system and forced his way onto the roster through hard work on the court and in the locker room.
“I have to stay hungry to stay in this league,” Niang said. “I have to continue to work harder.”