Niagara Gazette

Sports

September 9, 2009

BASKETBALL: Paul Harris invited to Utah Jazz training camp

Niagara Falls native Paul Harris has been invited to compete for a roster spot at the Utah Jazz training camp later this month, according to former coach Sal Constantino.

Constantino, who was an assistant coach when Harris played for Niagara Falls High School four years ago and kept in touch with Harris throughout his career at Syracuse, said Harris informed him of the offer on Tuesday.

Harris could not be reached for comment Wednesday, and it’s uncertain whether any other NBA teams are interested in bringing him to training camp.

Harris would give the Jazz a second tie to the area, as assistant coach Scott Layden spent many of his formative years here while his father, Frank Layden, coached the Niagara Purple Eagles from 1969 until 1975.

Considered an NBA prospect since his days at Niagara Falls, Harris left Syracuse after a junior season in which he averaged 12.0 points and 8.1 rebounds, but was not selected in the NBA’s two-round draft in June.

After attending a post-draft minicamp in Cleveland, Harris decided to join fellow Niagara Falls native Jonny Flynn on the Minnesota Timberwolves summer league roster. Harris appeared in four of five games in Las Vegas, averaging 4.5 points and 12 minutes.

At 6-foot-4 with long arms, quick feet and a powerful body, Harris projects to be a defensive specialist at the professional level, playing either shooting guard or small forward.

Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, is known for his tough, defensive-oriented teams.

Utah has three shooting guards on the roster who could also play small forward: Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and C.J. Miles. Brewer is regarded as an above-average defender, while Korver and Miles are more offensive-minded players.

The Jazz currently have 13 players under contract, the NBA minimum. Teams may have up to 15 players on the roster when the regular season begins, and the Jazz may need to sign another player to meet the minimum if veteran forward Matt Harpring decides to retire. Utah hasn’t yet signed second-round pick Goran Suton, a big man from Michigan State.

That Harris could be signed for the rookie minimum of roughly $457,000 might be attractive to Jazz management because the team currently has the second-highest payroll in the league, according to HoopsHype.com, and must pay a dollar-for-dollar luxury tax on any additional salary.

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