On Tuesday, the Jazz made moves to provide center options to new head coach Will Hardy.
First, the Jazz signed former 2013 No. 4 pick Cody Zeller to a training camp deal. Then, they agreed to terms on a two-way contract with former Ohio State and Wisconsin center Micah Potter, according to reporting from The Athletic.
The 29-year-old Zeller signed a minimum deal with Portland last year but fell out of the NBA after suffering a knee injury that required surgery. The Trail Blazers waived him in early February. But before that, Zeller enjoyed a productive 8-year career with the Charlotte Hornets, starting 273 games, averaging 13.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per 36 minutes.
Zeller starred at Indiana in college. Two of Zeller’s brothers, Luke and Tyler Zeller, have also played in the NBA. According to Basketball Reference, the 7-foot Zeller’s nickname is “The Big Handsome.”
Potter, meanwhile, played four seasons in the Big Ten between 2016 and 2021 for Ohio State, then Wisconsin. In his senior season, the 6-10 big man averaged 12.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for the Badgers. Last year, Potter played for the Sioux Falls Skyforce, averaging 14.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per game; he also signed a 10-day deal with the Detroit Pistons, playing in three games for a total of 31 minutes. He’s a stretch big man, shooting 38% from three in college and 39% in the G League.
The centers join a very shallow center rotation for Utah: rookie Walker Kessler and third-year player Udoka Azubuike were the only traditional centers on the roster before Tuesday. New acquisition Jarred Vanderbilt and veteran Rudy Gay have played spot center in their career, but have never played there full-time.
Zeller’s future in particular with the Jazz may depend on future trades the organization makes. In particular, the team currently has 17 players under guaranteed contracts, while the team will need to get down to 15 by the time the season rolls around in mid-October. Should the Jazz waive him, they could retain his G-League rights, and Zeller could stand ready-in-waiting while playing for the Salt Lake City Stars should he choose that path.
Meanwhile, Potter takes the two-way slot that was opened when the Jazz waived Xavier Sneed last week.