Jazz Sign Free-Agent Paul Carter, Roster Now at 17 Players


Well this isn’t exactly breaking news for Jazz fans, but after spending the past hour checking out Paul Carter highlights on YouTube, I felt compelled to add my 2 cents on Carter, who appears to be an intriguing prospect with a legitimate shot at making the Jazz  final roster.

Several sources, Brian T Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune, and the Jazz official website, broke the news on Tuesday that the Jazz had officially signed Carter to a contract. Carter is an athletic small-forward who is 6ft 8 inches and 205 pounds. He’s a versatile lefty who started his collegiate career at the University of Minnesota, but transferred to Illinois-Chicago for his senior season to be close to his sister, who was undergoing cancer treatment.

There is actually a great video about Carter and his family and the challenges he faced as he put family first, transferring from a Big-10 school where he would get more exposure, to a smaller school in the Horizon League, Illinois-Chicago. Click here to check out the video which will make you root for Paul Carter after watching it.

Carter worked out for the Jazz twice prior to the 2011 NBA draft, but he just so happened to workout the same day “The Jimmer” was in town, so it’s no surprise most Jazz fans don’t remember his workout since it was clearly overshadowed by Jimmer-mania. Brian T Smith at the Tribune has a great interview with Carter about his workout and experience thus far during camp, as well as another article on Carter’s initial invite to Jazz camp, from earlier this month.

Carter has actually been at Jazz training camp from the beginning, but he was forced to watch from the sidelines while he waited for FIBA to clear him to play, since he had committed to play in Cyprus this season. Scottie Reynolds who also signed with the Jazz, was in the same position, and just got his FIBA clearance and signed with the Jazz on Wednesday.

With the additions of Reynolds and Carter the Jazz roster now consists of 17 players, and the Jazz must trim that down to 15 by the end of next week. Of the 17 players in camp 12 have guaranteed contracts meaning Carter will be battling with Reynolds, former Jazz-man Keith McLeod, Trey Gilder, and Jamaal Tinsley for 1 to 3 potential roster spots.

Steve Luhm of the Tribune reported yesterday that Gilder has “Already made an impact at camp.” Gilder is cut right out of the Jeremy Evans mold, 6ft 9 inches tall, 185 to 205 pounds (depending on which site you go by) and is an explosive athlete. He averaged nearly 14 points per game over the course of 2 season in the D-League, but is trying to demonstrate his rebounding, defense and energy to make the team.

He’s almost 27, so he’s a little older, and frankly I haven’t had the chance to scout him yet so I can’t tell you if he can shoot or if he scores more like Evans with most of his points coming from dunks and hustle plays. He did average over 76% from the free-throw line so he must have a decent shot.

But back to Carter, who really caught my eye after watching a bunch of his footage on YouTube. Obviously what your seeing are highlight clips, so every 3 he shoots goes in and all of his fast breaks result in dunks. But, putting that aside I was really impressed with his overall game, he has a much better handle than Evans, and has a smooth outside shot. It actually reminds me a lot of CJ’s, probably because they are both lefties. He’s long, and at 6’8 he finishes above the rim with ease and looked to be a tenacious rebounder and a solid passer.

Again, I have to temper my enthusiasm, because I was watching a highlight reel, but knowing the Jazz solid history of finding diamonds in the rough, Millsap, Evans, Wes Matthews etc…Carter looks like another long, athletic, well-rounded player who could possibly give the Jazz minutes at the 3.

Another positive for Carter is he was coached for 2 seasons at Minnesota by Tubby Smith, so you know he’s benefitted from a great coach who has instilled in him excellent fundamentals. Here’s what coach Tyrone Corbin had to say about Carter:

"Tremendous athlete, first of all. He’s a competitor. He can shoot the ball. He’s long and rangy and can play some 3 for us. He’s used to being a bigger guy in college but his athletic ability will let him play in the perimeter some. We look forward to seeing him playing the 3 role."

Of the 5 players listed above the Jazz at most will keep 3, there is also the possibility that the Jazz sign veteran small-forward Josh Howard. However, due to Howard’s injury history, and his recent off-court issues, including his declaration that “half of the players in the NBA smoke Pot,” I’m leery of him coming in and being around the Jazz young core group of players. Howard has played in just 18, 35, 4, and 31 games in the the last 4 seasons total.

He had major knee surgery in March of 2010, and has also had surgery on his left ankle and wrist. His best season was in 2007, which was also the last time he played anywhere near a full season. That’s nearly 5 years spent being injured and really I’d rather see the minutes at small forward go to CJ Miles, Gordon Hayward, Jeremy Evans and possibly Paul Millsap.

Who knows perhaps Paul Carter or Trey Gilder will make a Wes Matthews type of undrafted free-agent impact, in which case the Jazz would definitely be better served not signing Howard. Regardless, we will know in about a week what the Jazz roster will look like, and with the upcoming season sure to be the most unpredictable any of us have seen, perhaps ever, the Jazz just may very well strike gold again in the form of someone like Paul Carter.

And, after everything he’s gone through, off the court, one can’t help but to root for him to succeed on it. Check out his highlights from his time at Minnesota and Illinois-Chicago by clicking here, and add your comments below of what you think.