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The case for the Jazz to keep Danuel House

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Utah Jazz forward Danuel House Jr. shoots over Phoenix Suns forward Ish Wainright.

Utah Jazz forward Danuel House Jr. shoots over Phoenix Suns forward Ish Wainright during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, in Phoenix.

Matt York, Associated Press

PHOENIX — The Utah Jazz are clearly in need of wing players whose effort and determination shine through on the court.

They might be able to find something on the trade market, they might be able to make a move to bring someone in, but the Jazz have two open roster spots and there is a player that’s standing right in front of them, making a very good case for keeping him around.

Danuel House originally signed a 10-day hardship deal with the Jazz when COVID-19 finally made its way onto the roster this season. Then they signed him to a standard 10-day deal on Jan. 18 that will expire on Friday (the Jazz play in Memphis on Friday.)

“They believe in me, because they gave me another one,” House said. “I’m just gonna ride the wave and make sure I get better.”

The Jazz could sign House to a second standard 10-day deal before they have to make a long-term decision. So that means that they could sign him to another 10-day deal that would take him to Feb. 8, just before the NBA trade deadline (Feb. 10). The Jazz could continue to keep him around and see if he can be an impactful player.

But, based on the small sample that we have of him with the Jazz so far, he’s shown that he has a lot of the traits that the Jazz are looking for.

“Just intensity and competitiveness,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said of House after the Jazz’s 115-109 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Monday night. “I think playing hard is as much a skill as anything else and you saw a guy who’s hungry and played hard.”

House started for the Jazz on Monday as the team was without all five of its regular starters as well as Joe Ingles. He played an impressive 42 minutes, 38 seconds, and finished the night with an even more impressive 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals, two blocks, just a single turnover and he got to the free-throw line a game-high nine times.

The sample size is not large. House has played in just five games during his time with the Jazz. But his production in limited opportunities has been great and his per-36 numbers would lead anyone to believe that House is good enough for a roster spot.

With steals, blocks, deflections, loose balls recovered and contested shots, House has had a uniquely high impact in his minutes. Even more than that, he’s shown through his scoring, passing and playmaking that he’s not just a defensive or shooting cog, but that he can be useful at every level.

None of this is to say that House will be cracking the rotation on a nightly basis or that he is the answer to the Jazz’s many issues that need addressing. But he’s a very useful player who can be trusted and who would make this Jazz team deeper and as it stands right now there’s no risk in keeping him around on another 10-day deal, just a small financial cost.

But outside of what he’s been able to do on the court, there’s a hunger and appreciation from House that is important for a team. It’s clear that House has felt slighted at times in his NBA career, but he’s felt something new and different with the Jazz and it’s making him want to fight even more to earn a spot on this roster.

“They welcomed me with open arms, accepted me, no one has ever turned me down, they always ask me if I need anything, they always make me comfortable,” House said. “So especially being a guy that has been accustomed to a certain way for years, and then you come over here and to be welcomed — it makes you really enjoy the process and everything.”

House is right that the Jazz believe in him. Snyder wouldn’t be asking House what he sees on the court, trying to correct him, give him feedback continuously throughout the game, during dead balls and timeouts, if Snyder didn’t see something in House that he liked. And House was already a fan of Snyder after being around him less than 24 hours.

“He’s passionate about it,” House said of Snyder. “We’re all passionate about it, obviously, so of course that’s going to bring chemistry. But not only that, he’s a great dude off the court. He’s a great dude. And to me, that’s before basketball.”

So, you’ve got a hungry, gritty wing player who can defend and is willing to make hustle plays and can score and play make and is unselfish and you can keep him around through Feb. 8 with no strings attached. The Jazz should do that, and then really think about giving him one of the open roster spots.