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Utah Jazz upgrade on defense, strike two-year deal with small forward Thabo Sefolosha

Published July 12, 2017 2:06 pm

Utah Jazz • He won't score a lot of points, but his addition will make Jazz stingier on perimeter
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Looking to bolster wing depth, the Jazz have signed journeyman Thabo Sefolosha Wednesday to a two-year contract worth $10.5 million, according to a league source.

The 6-foot-7 forward is a 11-year veteran, playing last season for the Atlanta Hawks. He averaged 7.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.

Sefolosha adds depth at small forward for the Jazz, who are still reeling from the loss of free agent forward Gordon Hayward.



While he won't help replace the scoring punch of Hayward — Sefolosha has never averaged double-digit points in an NBA season — the 33-year-old bears a reputation as a defensive menace. He was an all-defensive team honoree in 2010 with the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he enjoyed his most success.

With a 7-foot-2 wingspan, the Jazz believe his ability to stop scorers on the perimeter will help the organization maintain and perhaps improve its defensive identity built around all-NBA center Rudy Gobert.

The Jazz were No. 3 last year in defensive rating (102.7) behind the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors. General manager Dennis Lindsey remarked to the press last week that he would like to improve to No. 1.

The Tribune has learned that Sefolosha, an unrestricted free agent, was drawn to the Jazz because of their pass-heavy, international style of offense. Having thrived in a similar system in Atlanta, Sefolosha was sold on Utah's pitch.

Sefolosha may be a rotation player behind Utah's other big free agent signing — Joe Ingles — who agreed to a four-year deal earlier this month. But he also started 42 games last year for the Hawks and has started more than 400 games in his career.

The move is the latest in an eventful offseason for the Jazz, who are still trying to round out their roster. The franchise also traded for point guard Ricky Rubio and moved up in the NBA Draft for guard Donovan Mitchell, who has wowed in Summer League play.

Wednesday's deal marks the first major move the Jazz have made since losing Hayward, the franchise's first All-Star since Deron Williams.

Born in Switzerland, Sefolosha started his career in 2006 with the Chicago Bulls before a six-year stint with Oklahoma City. He has played for the Hawks the last three seasons.

tjones@sltrib.com and kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribjazz and @kylegoon

 

 

 

 

 

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