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Coming off the bench suits Giricek just fine

Veteran swingman Gordan Giricek is OK with coach Jerry Sloan's plan to start 2006 first-round draft choice Ronnie Brewer at shooting guard when the Jazz open the 2007-08 NBA season Tuesday night at Golden State.

"It's always nice to start, but I really never insisted that I have to start. Because it doesn't have to be that way," said Giricek, who started 80 of his first 118 games in Utah — but just six of 61 in which he played last season. "The only thing I need is to play normal and to be involved in something on the court. That's fine with me."

Sloan does plan to make Giricek part of his regular rotation but has tapped Brewer to step into the spot vacated when Derek Fisher left in the offseason for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Giricek — depending in part on the health of still-rehabbing-from-offseason-knee-surgery backup small forward Matt Harpring — is likely to enter off the bench behind either Brewer or starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko.

"Giri, he's got experience," said Sloan, whose Jazz — with six full days between their final preseason game and Tuesday's opener — did not practice Friday. "He came off the bench and did a good job for us last year in a lot of moments, so we need somebody that has experience in the league.

"Younger guys, it's tougher for them to come off the bench," the Jazz coach added. "Older guys have a better sense of what's going on, I think."

That's fine by sixth-season vet Giricek, a 30-year-old who is entering the final year of his contract with the Jazz and was the subject of offseason trade rumors.

"If you have respect and trust from teammates and coaches, I think it's great," he said. "I mean, only five people can be starters, right? So it's not a big thing for me at all. Never was. I just want to play, to be involved in making a result."

BOOKSHELF: A new coffee-table book, out just this week, names retired Jazz stars John Stockton and Karl Malone to its 1990s All-Decade Team.

Sports Illustrated: The Basketball Book ($29.95, hardcover) includes reprints from both a 1999 SI story on Stockton by Phil Taylor and a 1968 SI story on former Jazz guard Pistol Pete Maravich.

The jam-packed basketball commemorative also features a foldout photo illustration of all-time all-stars by inch-by-inch height listing, with Stockton getting edged by Bob Cousy and Malone among those losing out to Magic Johnson.

OUTSIDE OPINION: None of TNT's eight NBA analysts/broadcasters — Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Ernie Johnson, Reggie Miller, Doug Collins, Mike Fratello, David Aldridge and Craig Sager — pick the Jazz to win an NBA title this season.

Six went with San Antonio while Smith and Sager both chose Phoenix.

ALUMNI UPDATE: According to the Sacramento Bee, former Jazz big man Mikki Moore — who signed a three-year, $18-million deal as a free agent during the summer — has impressed his Kings teammates with hustle, a wealth of basketball knowledge, a willingness to lead and teach, as well as an ability to make 15-footers.

Moore seems quite content in Sacramento, too.

"The offense we're going to play is perfect for me," he told the Bee. "We run and gun, baby."

ON THE FARM: The Jazz's new D-League affiliate, the Orem-based Utah Flash, will select Thursday in the annual NBA Development Draft.

NBA TV will carry the event live, beginning with a 6 p.m. pre-draft show.

The Flash don't open training camp until Nov. 10, so it's unlikely any of the Jazz's candidates for the club — including rookies Kyrylo Fesenko and Morris Almond — would be sent down before then.

IN CASE HE FORGETS: Former Jazz shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson, still with the Washington Wizards, is sporting a new tattoo across his upper back this season.

It reads "Stevenson," in very large letters.


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com