Utah Jazz: Toure' Murry A Smart Gamble

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It takes a special kind of person to back out of a promise that was made with legendary basketball phenom Phil Jackson.

That’s right, someone had the nerve to commit to re-signing with the New York Knicks, shook hands on it with the Zen Master and then without notice, finalized a contract with another team as an unrestricted free agent.

So why did this player have a change of heart and decide to skip town and sign with a team that finished 25-57 last season? Because he grew impatient of being a free agent this late into the offseason.

Don’t get me wrong, it was obvious that 24-year old Toure’ Murry received interest from the Knicks, who wanted to bring him back to the Big Apple, but were worried that if they re-signed him too early, they were going to miss out on potential deals this summer.

Unfortunately, the Knicks and Jackson don’t have to worry about figuring out a new contract with Murry as the combo guard is close to settling on an agreement with the Utah Jazz for two-years, $2 million, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com.

It probably took a lot for Murry to leave Manhattan for Salt Lake City, assuming that the front office at Madison Square Garden told him how wonderful the future is going to be for the Knicks.

“By bringing back Carmelo Anthony it now gives us a better chance to acquire big name free agents during these next couple of years,” they said.

However, considering that Murry received a magnitude of interest from a handful of championship contending franchises, including the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers, I’m not surprised that Murry didn’t sign with the Knicks because let’s face it … there’s a possibility that New York won’t appear in the postseason for a second straight year.

But then again, the Utah aren’t exactly the next team in line to knock off the San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference anytime soon. Yet the Jazz should be more willing to let Murry see more minutes if he makes it on the team after training camp, as supposed to the Knicks where the Houston native played an average of 7.3 minutes per game.

When he was on the court during the Knicks’ abysmal 2013-14 campaign, Murry did show that he could be the next breakout star in years to come. Playing in 51 games last season, Murry averaged 20 points, 7 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 steals per 100 possessions.

But what made Murry an attractive free agent this offseason was his size and defensive abilities. His skills on the offensive side do need some work, which is something that can be fixed with rookie head coach Quin Snyder, who stressed the importance of shooting as an assistant with the Atlanta Hawks last season in which they finished with the second highest points per game average (101) in a single season since 1994.

Measuring in at 6-foot-5, 195 pounds, Murry did have a height advantage when it came to overpowering smaller guards as a backup behind Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni with New York. This will definitely give him an edge over Ian Clark, who’s a better shooter but smaller in size, in terms of being listed ahead on the depth chart.

Murry now joins a Jazz team that’s looking to do damage with a core of young talent. Despite their 50+ loss season, the Jazz did improve immensely by drafting Australian point guard Dante Exum with the fifth pick back in June, as well as walking away with Duke product Rodney Hood at No. 23.

Add the two rookies with Murry, Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Gordon Hayward, who’s desperate to prove to everyone that he’s worth the four-year, $63 million contract that he signed this summer, and you have yourself a possible diamond in the rough for 2014-15.

General manger Dennis Lindsay may have taken a gamble on potential by signing the Wichita State Shocker, but that gamble may turn into the jackpot that a rebuilding franchise needs to have in order to get back on the right track.

Murry will be able to show his worth as a basketball player for his new team out west, something that he couldn’t do as a member of the Knicks.

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