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Jazz weigh Spurs’ free agent

Team gets close look at S.L.-born shooting guard Devin Brown

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No official offer sheet was expected to come out of this first meeting, said Utah Jazz senior vice president Kevin O'Connor, but Salt Lake-born San Antonio Spurs restricted free agent Devin Brown did visit with the Jazz Tuesday in Salt Lake City.

The 6-foot-5, 26-year-old shooting guard, whose play was limited late in the season and in the playoffs by a herniated disk in his back, was making a bit of a get-to-know-you visit to the Jazz Tuesday morning.

"We're doing a little bit of homework on some free agents, and we haven't quit," said O'Connor. "There's nothing imminent. We're having a talk. He's a restricted free agent."

Added O'Connor: "We'll discuss what our business will be (with him Tuesday). We'll just sit down and visit, show him what the Jazz are and what they're not and see where his interest is and where our interest is.

"Fact-finding," O'Connor termed it.

O'Connor had said Monday that the Jazz and other teams would likely wait until Aug. 15 to do much regarding free agents because that's the deadline for teams to take advantage of the NBA's new one-time "amnesty" rule that allows them to waive one costly player. That player's salary would still count against the team, but the amnesty rule keeps it from affecting the luxury tax, so some well-known players have been or will be made free agents.

O'Connor said he could not say if Brown's status as a Salt Lake City native made him more interested in Utah than some of the other cities that have courted him. Brown was born in Utah but grew up in San Antonio and was the leading career scorer at University of Texas at San Antonio.

In a recent story in the San Antonio Express-News, Brown's agent, Darrick Powell, said a dozen teams had shown interest, including Portland, Seattle and Cleveland. Brown said in a recent SAE-N story that he planned to visit several teams in the coming weeks.

The 2005 NBA-champion Spurs are waiting to see if Brown receives an offer sheet from another team. They have the right to match any such offer within seven days and keep the player. They gave Brown a qualifying offer of about $900,000 to retain that right to match. Brown earned $695,000 last season, and the newspaper quoted Powell as saying he will not play for $1 million now. "He's more than a $1 million player."

Powell told the San Antonio paper that Brown's back is well, and he has sent doctors' reports to several teams to prove it.

The Express-News reported that the Spurs also like a couple of other players who play the swing position, including University of Utah product Britton Johnsen, who played well in the Jazz-run Rocky Mountain Revue last month.

Brown went undrafted by the NBA but was drafted by Fayetteville (N.C.) of the NBA's Development League in 2002 and was the league's MVP and rookie of the year. He also played in the U.S. Basketball League. The Spurs first signed him in September 2002 and waived him twice. He signed a 10-day contract with Denver in April 2003, then was signed to a two-year deal by San Antonio on Aug. 1, 2003.

He played for San Antonio in the 2004 Rocky Mountain Revue and made the all-Revue team.

Because of his sore back, Brown played in about half of the Spurs' 2005 playoff games, getting between one and 20 minutes on the court. The 20 minutes produced eight points in Game 4 of the NBA Finals against Detroit. He played in all six finals games against the Pistons. He averaged 7.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists for the 2004-05 season.


E-mail: lham@desnews.com