Utah Jazz: 13 years later, Raul Lopez returns to the fold

Former Utah Jazz point guard Raul Lopez is at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus this week as part of Quin Snyder’s coaching staff.

There was a familiar face on the scene as the Utah Jazz tipped off training camp on Tuesday. Former Jazzzman Raul Lopez has been at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus, putting in work with the likes of Ricky Rubio and Alec Burks as they prepare for their 2018-19 campaign.

13 years after his NBA career reached its abrupt conclusion, Lopez has officially re-joined the club with whom he played 113 games from 2003 to 2005 as a player development coach.

“We all know Raul from when he was drafted here and often times, similar to DeSagana Diop, we’ve had situations where we felt like, particularly a guy that’s a former player, has a perspective that they can add,” Snyder said after practice. “We wanted Raul to be a part of the group.”

Snyder stopped short of breaking down Lopez’s work schedule, but made clear the fact that he’s with the team and will be around throughout the coming season.

Of course, this isn’t Lopez’s first return to Salt Lake City since his playing days. He spent time working with Rubio, a former teammate from his days with the Spanish national team, during the Jazz point-man’s late hot streak last season. “He gives me a lot of confidence,” Rubio told the Deseret News in January.

Although he’s largely known in these parts as the player the Jazz drafted instead of Tony Parker, Lopez enjoyed a lengthy career in the best leagues in Europe. Along the way, he also found success on the international circuit, capturing a silver medal with Rubio and Team Spain at the 2008 Olympics and a gold at EuroBasket 2009.

Lopez’s earlier tenure in Utah was short, but he was a big part of the one of the Jazz franchise’s more memorable teams — the 2003-04 unit that finished 42-40 and nearly made the playoffs despite being picked to win just seven games. It was an impressive feat for a team led by the likes of Andrei KirilenkoMatt HarpringCarlos Arroyo and Raja Bell.

He averaged a respectable 6.5 points and four assists per game in his Jazz career.

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Lopez finally retired in 2016 at the age of 36 after spending his last five seasons with Bilbao Basket of the Spanish ACB League. He remained with Bilbao for two more years as sports director, but stepped down from that post in June amid the team’s financial difficulties and relegation to Spain’s second division.

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