Niagara Gazette

Sports

September 27, 2009

BASKETBALL: Harris keeps his head up

Paul Harris still has a positive outlook after suffering the worst injury of his basketball career at the worst possible time.

The Niagara Falls native is confident he can prove himself worthy of a spot on the Utah Jazz roster. If only he has enough time.

Harris sprained his right ankle during a pickup game in Utah on Tuesday, and was wearing a walking boot when the Jazz opened training camp Saturday. There is no timetable for his return, though he’s leaning toward staying in Utah for treatment when the team leaves for a weeklong trip to Europe on Thursday.

“It’s just another chapter in my book,” Harris said in a phone interview Sunday. “It’s not easy. But it’ll just make me appreciate it more when I make it.”

Harris, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard trying to secure a contract after going undrafted following his junior season at Syracuse, said he was holding his own in pickup games with Jazz players before the injury.

He’s one of 19 players in the Jazz training camp. Twelve players are on guaranteed contracts, although one of them, veteran forward Matt Harpring, has chronic knee and ankle pain that will keep him out of the entire preseason and may force him to retire. Utah must have at least 13 players on its roster when the season opens Oct. 28, and may carry a maximum of 15 players.

“It definitely was frustrating and it made me mad at first,” Harris said. “But as the days go by, I realized it is what it is. I’m taking it day by day. ... I know my ability, and when I watch this team practice, I really think I can help.”

Harris said he initially thought his ankle was broken when he landed awkwardly after jumping for a rebound.

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