On Monday night, Diante Garrett was walking through the aisles of an Iowa Walmart, picking up juice and cereal and milk to stock his apartment with as he waited for the D-League season to start.
That's when his telephone rang.
"I couldn't believe it at first," Garrett, the newest member of the Utah Jazz, said Wednesday as he sat in the locker room at EnergySolutions Arena. "Then I got real excited. I don't even remember if I bought everything."
Garrett's signing comes a day after waiving veteran point guard Jamaal Tinsley.
Jazz coach Ty Corbin praised the 35-year-old Tinsley's contributions over the last few seasons with the team. But the team needed more speed at the position, Corbin said, leading to Tinsley's release just eight games into the year.
"Nothing against him, it's just where we are right now," Corbin said. "We need to try to pick up the pace of the game a little bit."
The 6-foot-4 Garrett played at Iowa State Tinsley's alma mater and spent last season with the Phoenix Suns and the D-League Bakersfield Jam. He was part of the Oklahoma City Thunder's preseason camp, averaging 3.2 points and 1.5 assists in 10 minutes a night before getting cut in late October.
Garrett was at Utah's shootaround Wednesday, but did not participate. He watched film before the game and said he knew three or four plays.
He called himself a "pass-first" point guard, who can penetrate and find open teammates.
"[But] if I get my shot, I'll take it," he said.
More or less?
Asked if Tinsley's release would mean more time at the point for guard Alec Burks, Corbin said, "Maybe more, maybe less." The Jazz coach would prefer, however, to let Burks play the off guard.
"I'd like to have him at the 2-spot so he'll be able to attack," he said. "I think we've thrown him off a little bit [by switching back and forth]."
Rookie point guard Trey Burke continues to make progress in his recovery after surgery last month to repair a fractured index finger. Corbin said Burke has been able to dribble without discomfort.
"Every day we'll see what he does," Corbin said. "The next day we'll see if he's sore. He's coming along very well. So hopefully he continues to get better so we can get him back on the floor in five-on-five soon."
Corbin has been harping on center Enes Kanter some of late about his defensive rebounding or lack thereof. After averaging 7.5 defensive boards per 48 minutes last season, Kanter's average has dipped to 4.2 this season.
"Some of them, he's been right there to get them," Corbin said. "He's just not getting the ball. We have to get him better. He's got to rebound for us, especially when we have one big, and he being the lone big on the floor, he has to dominate the paint at that time."
Big steps forward
In his sophomore season, New Orleans' Anthony Davis has taken a step toward stardom. The former No. 1 pick is averaging better than 20 points and 10 rebounds a night for the Pelicans. Utah's Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward got a sneak preview this summer during a USA basketball camp in Las Vegas.
"Extremely versatile. Talented," Hayward said. "Can do a little bit of everything. Shoot it. He can take guys out and drive it to the hole. He's pretty good defensively, too. He's long and alters shots at the rim."