NBA • D-League player says he's coming, but Utah has no open spots.
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Chicago • On a day the Jazz thought they would finally have their whole team together, news came that they might still be waiting for one more player.
Despite rumors circulating and a D-League All-Star tweeting that he would be joining the Jazz, the roster remained intact and unchanged Friday yes, that even includes the long-since-axed Raja Bell.
According to multiple reports, Travis Leslie of the Santa Cruz Warriors will sign with the Jazz. However, because the Jazz roster is currently at the league maximum of 15 players, they would need to create a roster spot for Leslie. Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears reported late Friday that the Jazz are expected to sign Leslie on Saturday, but that it remains unclear who will be waived.
"We are where we are right now," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We can't worry about any changes. We got to work with where we are right now and whatever happens happens."
The 14 players with the Jazz were all on hand for Friday's game against the Bulls, and the agent for Bell said the absentee guard had not had any contact with the Jazz.
"Haven't heard a word," Herb Rudoy told The Tribune.
The lack of communication from the Jazz didn't stop Leslie from celebrating what he apparently considers to be a done deal.
On Friday afternoon, the former University of Georgia player retweeted scores of messages congratulating him on joining the Jazz and posted a message of his own: "Glad to be given this opportunity. Couldn't be here with the man above." He finished the message with the hashtag, "GodIsGood."
Leslie was listed as inactive for Santa Cruz's game Friday night against Sioux Falls.
The Jazz have had success with late-season acquisitions and D-League call-ups. Othyus Jeffers, Kyle Weaver and Blake Ahern were all signed from the D-League, and Sundaiata Gaines famously hit a game-winning 3-pointer to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in January 2010.
Corbin said it is "difficult" for a player to join a new team mid-season, a fact that would only be heightened by being called up to the NBA from basketball's version of Triple-A.
"I think anytime I've been traded is the only thing I can relate it to," Corbin said, "when you come from one place to another team ,finding your niche as soon as you can. Then, getting comfortable so you can play your game or learning the guys."
Bell would seem the most likely candidate to be cut if the two sides could agree to a buyout. The Jazz have said they offered Bell the minimum buyout, which he did not accept by the March 1 deadline to be eligible to play in the playoffs with another team.
Jeremy Evans' bid to repeat as Slam Dunk Contest champion at last month's All-Star Weekend fell short, but his showing wasn't forgotten.
During a timeout at the United Center on Friday, mascot Benny the Bull spoofed Evans' most memorable dunk during a jamming jamboree.
Using a trampoline, the mascot jumped over a painting on an easel shrouded by a black sheet and dunked.
Benny then pulled off the sheet, unveiling a painting of himself performing the dunk. It was in homage to Evans' dunk in the final round in Houston before he eventually lost to Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors.
Evans, for what it's worth, laughed on the Jazz bench during the mascot's interpretation and exchanged high-fives with teammates.
The painting will be sold to benefit charity.