Utah Jazz: Intriguing wing lands a guaranteed contract

Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder (Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder (Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Utah Jazz must have preferred experience for their second two-way spot.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Utah Jazz announced the signing of former two-year Sacramento Kings reserve Justin James to a two-way deal. In doing so, the franchise filled out its two allotted two-way contracts, as second-year Utah guard Trent Forrest was already on tap for a two-way spot once again.

James is a 6-foot-7, 190-pound wing. He saw limited action in his 72 total outings between his two campaigns for the Kings after going No. 40 overall at the 2019 NBA Draft. That followed his prolific four-year college career at Wyoming, where he averaged 22.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 4.4 assists as a senior.

Glimpses of scoring prowess from the potential Utah Jazz contributor

Last season, Justin James averaged only 3.9 points, 0.8 rebounds, and 0.6 assists across 8.6 minutes per appearance while knocking down 36.8 percent of his 3-point attempts. And his rookie numbers were all in the same ballpark.

Still, it’s clear from the highlights below of his career-high 31-point performance in May that James has a fair share of potential as a smooth, savvy, versatile scoring option off the bench.

It’s also evident now that the Jazz front office has seen enough to invest in the 24-year-old’s abilities. After all, two-way contracts equal guaranteed paychecks regardless of how much time the player spends away from the G League on the big stage.

As Ben Anderson of KSL Sports noted on Twitter, the Justin James signing is likely a sign that undrafted rookies MaCio Teague and Derrick Alston Jr. will wind up as full-time G League players for the Salt Lake City Stars.

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Before Wednesday’s news, many Jazz fans figured Teague was a prime candidate to end up alongside Trent Forrest as the team’s other two-way piece for this season.