Toronto • The Jazz dealt the face of the franchise before the trade deadline, ran a 13-man roster for the majority of the season, and have played through injuries rather than address them through roster additions.
But with 18 games left during the 2010-11 campaign and the team's playoff hopes taking a beating, Utah has made a move.
The Jazz called up center/forward Marcus Cousin from the Development League's Austin Toros on Tuesday, The Salt Lake Tribune learned. The 6-foot-11, 245-pound product of the University of Houston has been signed to a 10-day contract and will be in uniform Wednesday night for a road game against the Toronto Raptors.
"Marcus has had a terrific year in the NBDL," Utah general manager Kevin O'Connor said. "His improvement gives him a chance to help a team."
With the Jazz in the middle of a crucial four-game road trip and the team dealing with several key injuries, the time had come for Utah to take action.
Cousin is not just backup insurance, either. Aggressive, physical inside and able to knock down outside jump shots, the 24-year-old big man could rack up minutes against the Raptors if he shows progress during a Wednesday morning shootaround. But the biggest factor affecting Cousin's playing time will be Utah's frailty. The Jazz had just eight players available Tuesday for practice in New York, and four Francisco Elson, Kyrylo Fesenko, Mehmet Okur and Ronnie Price have been ruled out versus Toronto. Working in Cousin's favor: Elson, Fesenko and Okur are centers, leaving Al Jefferson as the team's lone veteran post player who is not ailing.
Cousin played in 38 games for the Toros, averaging 14.7 points and 8.6 rebounds. He spent training camp with the San Antonio Spurs, recording 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds during five preseason games.
Everyone from O'Connor to former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan had previously stated their reluctance to add a new, unproven player to Utah's roster this season, citing reasons such as the complexity of the team's offensive system to the fact that the small-market organization was already in the luxury tax.
But with the playoffs approaching and the Jazz falling backward Utah entered Tuesday night stuck in 10th place in the Western Conference a franchise that is running out of time to move forward made a play by reaching downward.
The Jazz are not just lacking healthy reserves, as the availability of two starters is also in question against the Raptors. Paul Millsap (left patellar tendinitis) is a game-time decision and Andrei Kirilenko (back spasms) is doubtful.
Tribune reporter Steve Luhm contributed to this story.