Utah Jazz: 5 best free agent signings in franchise history

Carlos Boozer, Utah Jazz (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Carlos Boozer, Utah Jazz (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Utah Jazz
Rickey Green of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images) /

In the last slide, we touched on a current member of the Utah Jazz. Here, we’re taking it way back to 1980-81, when the Jazz signed the man they called Fastest Of Them All in Rickey Green.

Green didn’t project as an All-Star caliber player when the Jazz acquired him through free agency that year. He was the 16th overall pick in the 1977 NBA Draft. He spent a single season with the Golden State Warriors before moving on to the Detroit Pistons, where he also only stuck for a year.

He was statistically underwhelming at both of those stops, and that trend actually carried over into Salt Lake City for a season. In Green’s first season with the Utah Jazz he produced a solid, but underwhelming 9.0 points, 5.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game.

It’s hard to say what happened to Green over the 1980 offseason. If the Utah Jazz could mine history and figure out what it was, they’d bottle it, store it and give it to every player on their roster.

In 1981-82, Green improved those numbers to 14.8 points, 7.8 assists and a healthy 2.3 steals per game. By 1983-84, Green was an All-Star with averages of 13.2 points, 9.2 assists and 2.7 steals. He also posted an impressive career-high 3.5 Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) that season.

Whenever a franchise can garner all-star production from an unexpected source, it’s cause for celebration. With Green manning the point, the Utah Jazz went 45-37 and advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs. It was the best season in franchise history at that time.

That’s pretty good for a team featuring a guy who’d projected as a career backup running the point.