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Salt City Hoops - Here’s Johnny: Only Minor Moves for the Jazz on Draft Night


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Isaac Adams

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The Jazz made no selections in Thursday’s NBA Draft, but did sign Johnny Juzang to a two-way deal. (Rick Bowmer via sltrib.com)

The 2022 NBA Draft was full of activity, with 27 of 30 NBA teams participating and picks and prospects being traded back and forth but the Utah Jazz started the night without any 2022 draft picks and did not acquire any during the annual event.

For the first time in 30 years, the Jazz were not part of the NBA draft. When the draft ended, news started to break about undrafted free agents signing with teams on two-way contracts or non-guaranteed camp deals. About an hour after the draft ended, Adrian Wojnarowski broke the biggest Jazz news of the evening.

UCLA’s Johnny Juzang has agreed to a two-way contract with the Utah Jazz, source tells ESPN.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 24, 2022

In other words, Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley, Royce O’Neale and everybody else is still on the Jazz. For now. I’m sure the Jazz will continue to work the phones and see if they can provide a shake-up to a roster that seemed disconnected to end the season. The first real night of the 2022 NBA off-season seemed a like a night of possibilities where perhaps some of the Jazz future would be revealed. Instead, there’s barely a glimpse to be seen.

Change will come. The 2022-23 Jazz will look different than the 2021-22 Jazz did. Who knows what shape that will take. For now, we know Johnny Juzang will be coming. He’ll be available to the Jazz as a two-way player, but also provide some life to the Stars, who also looked pretty lifeless at times during the 2021-22 season.

Juzang is a 6’7″ wing out of UCLA who starred during UCLA’s incredible 2021 Final Four run and found himself rising up draft boards. He looked like a potential first round pick after the NCAA tourney, but ultimately decided to return to school for his junior year. The 21-year-old didn’t have a great 2022 season and ended up undrafted but the Jazz and Stars will look to maximize the sparks of potential that he showed during that memorable run. But Juzang is not a defensive stopper. He’ll probably play almost exclusively in the G League.

Reports also dropped late in the evening about two Exhibit 10 signings: Jamaican center Kofi Cockburn out of Illinois and Georgia Tech guard Jordan Usher.

Exhibit 10 contracts are non-guaranteed “make good” deals. They allow a team to bring a player in for Summer League and even fall camp. Sometimes they come with a small guarantee to entice the player, but that amount does not count against the cap or tax, and the rest of the player’s salary doesn’t start counting against a team’s tax bill until/unless the player makes it to the regular season without being cut. Most do not. Players on these non-guaranteed summer/camp contracts often have a clause that allows teams to convert them to two-way deals (if there’s an opening; right now, both of Utah’s two-way spots are filled, with Juzang in one and Xavier Sneed in the other). A team’s G League club can also claim “affiliate rights” to a player waived in the parent club’s training camp. so teams most often sign Exhibit 10 deals to secure a player for their G League team.

Cockburn is a big, physical center, an absolute load at 285. He overpowered college players as a pick-and-roll finisher to the tune of 20.9 points per game as a junior. He came through Oak Hill Academy, the same prestigious high school program that has turns out NBA stars like Jerry Stackhouse, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Josh Smith.

Usher is a big guard at 6’7″, and he topped out at 14.8 points per game as a fifth-year senior at Georgia Tech. He’s athletic and strong, but not a great shooter. He is a product of the same Georgia high school as Boston’s Jaylen Brown and 1990s star Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

While Juzang is slated (at least for now) in on of those hybrid Stars-Jazz roster spots, it’s likely that Cockburn and Usher are exclusively Stars-bound. They’ll have opportunities in next month’s summer league and in vet camp to make their case for a roster spot.

The bigger changes the Jazz want and may need are yet to come. They are still deciding on a new coach. They surely have some roster moves to make, including near the top of their rotation. But that’s still yet to come.

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