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Utah Jazz roster (pretty much) set. Here’s how it came together and what it means for the future

SHARE Utah Jazz roster (pretty much) set. Here’s how it came together and what it means for the future

SALT LAKE CITY — Georges Niang and Naz Mitrou-Long stood side-by-side in Utah Jazz gear.

Even after Saturday’s Summer League finale loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, the former Iowa State teammates had nothing to be ashamed about.

Earlier that day, Mitrou-Long signed a two-way deal with the Jazz at Encore Las Vegas Hotel/Casino, while Niang shared the same experience Friday, signing his three-year, $5 million deal at the same location.

The longtime friends were the most recent signees in a somewhat quiet offseason for the organization.

“We’re really excited," Niang said. "The Jazz organization has done right by us. We’re just so excited to grow and chase our dreams with their name on the front of our jersey.”

Loyalty seemed to be the theme throughout summer. Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey promised he would push to bring back the team’s prized free agents after a second-round playoff run, and that’s exactly what happened.

Not only did the team re-sign Niang and Mitrou-Long, it also locked in its main free-agent targets in Derrick Favors, Dante Exum and Raul Neto soon after the free agency period opened July 1, while guaranteeing Ekpe Udoh’s $3.4 million salary and Thabo Sefolosha’s $5.2 million contract for next season.

Sefolosha’s news became official July 2, followed by Favors’ two-year deal worth over $36 million. The team announced Grayson Allen’s signing that same evening before Exum (three-year, $33 million) and Neto (two-year, $4.4 million) agreed to multi-year deals July 3.

On July 8, the Jazz informed Udoh they would be bringing him back for next season after waiving Jonas Jerebko on July 7.

Utah then agreed to a deal with former UMBC star Jairus Lyles on July 12, with the option to convert his contract into a two-way deal to play with both the Jazz and Salt Lake City Stars of the G-League.

“I’m just someone who’s going to work hard every single day in practice, in the games and do whatever the coaches ask of me,” Lyles said. “I’m someone who’s not going to get in trouble off the court and just a gym rat. I’m working on getting better every single day to develop an NBA game.”

Currently, all 15 roster spots are filled but the team can bring in 20 guys entering training camp in September — which includes the pair of two-way spots. That number has to be trimmed to 15 by the season opener.

With all the summer transactions, the Jazz are now nearly $17 million over the league salary cap — roughly $3.5 million under the luxury tax — and may only sign outside players using any available exceptions or at league minimum salaries, according to spotrac.com. Biannual and mid-level exceptions are available but it’s highly unlikely Lindsey will use those this late in the game.

Utah ranks No. 17 in team payrolls at nearly $119 million for the 2018-19 season, according to HoopsHype.

The good thing is that most of the front-office moves weren’t long-term deals.

Lyles was pulled in on a minimum deal, Allen signed to a two-year rookie contract, Niang’s deal isn’t guaranteed after the first year and Favors’ second year is non-guaranteed, which gives the franchise flexibility in the future.

Donovan Mitchell and Tony Bradley also face team options next offseason, while Ricky Rubio, Alec Burks, Sefolosha and Udoh have contracts expiring next summer.

For now, guys like Niang, Mitrou-Long, Favors and others can feel comfortable being Jazzmen as things look bright in Salt Lake City.

“Part of my job is to project, and I’ll be held accountable to that,” Lindsey said.