Gunther & Ben

Can Willie Reed be the Jazz’s backup center?

The NBA veteran craves shot to contribute in Utah.

The day before the first practice, Willie Reed posted an instagram story showing him working out at West High School’s Gene Plaga Stadium – a block away from Vivint Smart Home Arena. The 3-year NBA veteran was out of basketball for nearly six months. He suffered a season-ending shoulder injury on the Salt Lake City Stars in January. Now, he’s back in Utah trying to earn a spot back in the league with the Jazz’s Summer League squad.

“He knows what we expect, what we’re about,” Summer head coach Lamar Skeeter said. “You can tell he’s worked to get back from this injury. He’s in shape. He’s playing hard and talking. All the things that make him valuable, we’re seeing this first few practices.”

Stints with the Nets, Clippers, Heat, and Pistons allowed for 152 appearances in the NBA, but “Showtime” Willie Reed thrived in the D League. Reed earned  All-NBA D League First Team in 2015 and Second Team in 2014.

The Salt Lake City Stars selected Reed first overall in the 2018 G League Draft. Before the injury, the 6-foot-11 big averaged 20.1 points and 11.2 rebounds in 21 starts.

“It wasn’t the way I wanted to go out. I thought I had a good opportunity to be in this organization in the future,” Reed explained after Friday’s practice.

A spot as a backup center opens up if Ekpe Udoh leaves. Reed didn’t even realize that opportunity was available when asked by The Salt Lake Tribune‘s Eric Walden.

“The fact that they let me come here, and now that you’re telling me that that means I have a great opportunity. But there’s still work to be done. There’s no pressure. It’s just go out there and do what I’ve been doing. It’s the reason why I’m here, and they want to see that,” Reed said.

 


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