Utah Jazz gives up promising two-way player just 8 days after contract begins

Justin James’ experience with the Utah Jazz was unexpectedly cut short as the team opted out of the forward on October 1, just 8 days after his two-part contract began.

James has struggled to find his niche at the NBA level so far, and it looks like he won’t be in Salt Lake City. The 40th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft averaged 7.5 minutes per game over 2 seasons with the Sacramento Kings.

During these two seasons, James was able to show some improvement. He scored 16.1 points per 36 minutes last season after averaging 13.8 per 36 the previous season. At 24, James could find another home to ply his trade before the start of the 2021-22 season.

A two-way contract allows an NBA team to transfer a player between their regular roster and their G-League affiliate. Each team has two such arrangements, and the Utah Jazz already have one signed with second-year guard Trent Forrest.

While the job security of two-way contract NBA players is notoriously low, it’s odd that a player would be released from a contract so quickly. James was even in attendance as a member of the Utah Jazz on Media Day. Nonetheless, the team may have another plan with the two-way contract slot they opened up with this move.

Currently, the Utah Jazz squad has 19 players, one less than the training camp maximum. Marques Bolden and Malik Fitts are two recent guests at training camp who could compete for the window that has just opened in James’ absence.

The Jazz are a deep, talented, and rival NBA basketball team. GM Justin Zanik knows his club’s expectations are high as we head into the 2021-22 NBA season, and for good reason. He must use every place to maximize the chances of bringing the Larry O’Brien Trophy to Salt Lake City.

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