Darrell Griffith, the Jazz's all-time leader in games played, will survive the expansion draft. The Jazz protected Griffith Tuesday in sending their list to the NBA office.
Jazz officials changed their minds and decided not to announce the list, but player personnel director Scott Layden called the three unprotected players. "We're not comfortable releasing anybody's name," Layden said. "We're not comfortable exposing anybody."Forward Jose Ortiz and guard Jim Farmer later confirmed they were called, while Griffith's attorney, Bob Woolf, said Griffith was not contacted. That leaves guard Jim Les as the third unprotected player.
That's the way the Jazz's unprotected list stood immediately after the season, although a possible trade that fell through, apparently involving Ortiz, could have changed their plans. They could keep all three players only by trading a draft pick to Orlando or Minnesota.
The Jazz only had to expose three because Marc Iavaroni is an unrestricted free agent. They'll lose one player in the expansion draft, held June 15 - if the NBA Finals have ended - or June 22.
Last June, the Jazz exposed Griffith, taking a successful risk that he would not be chosen, coming off knee surgery. The Jazz lost Rickey Green to Charlotte in that draft.
This time, Ortiz or Farmer is the logical choice. The Jazz's 1987 first-round draft choice, Ortiz played a season in Spain before joining the team and played in 51 games for 327 minutes as a rookie - the fewest minutes of any full-season Jazzman since Tom Boswell and J.J. Anderson in 1983-84.
"Other players are more important to them, in their roles on the team," Ortiz said from his home in Puerto Rico. "I can understand that."
Ortiz, who started 15 early-season games, is hoping not to go to Orlando or Minnesota, but noted, "It would give me a little more opportunity to try to play."
Farmer has the same attitude. "I know I can play where ever I am," he said from Tuscaloosa, Ala. "Hopefully, I'll get a chance to improve. The teams I did play, I thought I played pretty well. The more I played, the better I got."
Farmer, Dallas' 1987 first-round pick, was waived by the Mavericks before his second season and joined the Jazz in January when Bobby Hansen was injured. He appeared in 37 games and was still in Coach Jerry Sloan's plans when he broke his hand in March and missed five weeks.
While Farmer could be attractive, he's guessing Ortiz will go. "Expansion teams are going to look at big guys first," he said.
Les played in all 82 games as John Stockton's backup, averaging less than 10 minutes a game.