clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Jazz rookie appears 'lost in space'

BOISE — After two full days of fall training camp, Jazz 2007 second-round draft choice Kyrylo Fesnko — a k a "Fess" — is in desperate need of map-and-compass.

Ask Kevin O'Connor how the 20-year-old looks, and Utah's basketball boss doesn't hold back.

"Lost," O'Connor said. "Lost in space."

Ask Jerry Sloan the same, and the Jazz coach who got his first look at the rather raw Fesenko during last July's Rocky Mountain Revue sings much the same tune.

"Over the summer he had some moments where he played pretty well," Sloan said. "Out here, he's trying to find himself again."

It's true, Fesenko will readily fess up.

"Right now I stick between two worlds — European basketball and American basketball," he said.

One of the biggest adjustments for the towering Ukranian center — besides keeping his shirt from coming untucked, one of Sloan's prime pet peeves, and managing to keep tied the string holding up his shorts — has been trying to remember to step out of the lane before being called for a 3-second violation.

"Sometimes I'm OK with our practices. But sometimes I do, like, some stuff that, mentally, I don't think about it, and I see that everybody look at me," he said. "I was like, 'What?' (They say) 'You do it wrong. We don't do that in NBA.'"

Fesenko, 20, has a guaranteed multiyear contact that will pay $750,000 this season and $810,000 next season (with a team option for 2009-10). But he is a prime candidate to spend time this season with the Utah Flash, the Jazz's new Utah County-based NBA Development League affiliate.

And that's fine by him.

"Coach says if I do not play a lot for the main team, they will send me to the D-League. I'm OK with that," Fesenko said. "I'm really for that, because (it is) the same system, the same type of game, and a lot of game time."

And if it takes a trip or two from Salt Lake City to Orem for Fesenko to find his way in Utah — O'Connor said it's "a given" he'll log at least some games for the Flash — that's fine by the Jazz as well.

"He's not afraid to work," O'Connor said, "and that's the thing that's important."

BIRDS OF A FEATHER: Jazz veteran forward and Russia native Andrei Kirilenko suggested Fesenko's toughest adjustment to life in America may come when it's time for lunch and dinner.

"Food is killing if you not get used to it," Kirilenko said. "Like my first year I was eating (so much) chicken Caesar salad I was ... going 'cluck, cluck.'"

TRADE TALK: Kirilenko's blogged trade request from last month is a non-issue, O'Connor contended Wednesday.

"Everybody can have a trade desire," the Jazz general manager said. "It's a matter of him coming to work and doing what he's supposed to do. As far as the trade desire goes, that's out of my mind. That's out of my picture."

MEMO TO MEMO: On Tuesday, Jazz assistant coach Phil Johnson suggested one way Utah might try to get Kirilenko more involved in the Jazz offense is to occasionally play Turkish center Memo Okur out of Kirilenko's usual small-forward spot — allowing the lanky Russian more post-up opportunities down low.

That was news to All-Star Okur, who seems willing and able nonetheless.

"I have never played the 3 position before in my life," he said. "But I have no problem with that. I mean, whatever he (Sloan) puts me in I'm just gonna try to do my best."

MISC.: Still hurting and medicated from last Friday's removal of his wisdom teeth, starting point guard Deron Williams again sat out two-a-day practices Wednesday. He still isn't eating solid foods but may try to work out today. ... Starting power forward Carlos Boozer, still tending to family matters involving an ill son in Miami, was absent again as expected Wednesday. ... The Jazz's practice Saturday at Taco Bell Arena in Boise will be free and open-to-the-public, starting at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are not required.


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com