In a surprising decision on Saturday, the Utah Jazz waived Jared Butler, the final move needed to trim the roster to the maximum 15 players.
On Friday night, the Deseret News reported that the Jazz had waived Stanley Johnson and was expected to waive Cody Zeller, both moves that were made official by the team on Saturday.
That left one more full-contract player that needed to be cut from the roster before the NBA’s Monday deadline.
In 2021, the Jazz traded out of the first round of the NBA draft to get Butler. Once considered a lock as a mid-first round pick, Butler had slid down into the second round and the Jazz were over the moon about being able to grab the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player with the 40th pick.
The Baylor standout never was able to crack Quin Snyder’s rotation, appearing in just 42 games, nearly all in garbage time minutes.
This season looked like it was going to give Butler renewed opportunity to prove his NBA mettle. He had recently shown some improvement and maturity on the court, flashes that many believed took him off the chopping block, but the Jazz decided to move on the from the second-year guard.
The reason that the move was so surprising for the Jazz was the other likely options available to them to waive.
Udoka Azubuike, who was a draft pick from the previous front office regime, has barely played since being injured for the majority of his time in a Jazz uniform. Leandro Bolmaro, like Johnson, only saw playing time in a single preseason game in mop-up minutes.
Butler, though, would have had a hard time cracking even this rebuilding rotation with so many guards ahead of him, and with new head coach Will Hardy’s penchant for long, big lineups, a smaller guard like Butler would have had a tough road to hoe.
The Jazz’s roster now stands at 15 full-roster players and two two-way players:
- Lauri Markkanen
- Kelly Olynyk
- Mike Conley
- Malik Beasley
- Jordan Clarkson
- Jarred Vanderbilt
- Collin Sexton
- Walker Kessler
- Rudy Gay
- Nickeil Alexander-Walker
- Simone Fontecchio
- Talen Horton Tucker
- Ochai Agbaji
- Leandro Bolmaro
- Udoka Azubuike
- Johnny Juzang — two-way
- Micah Potter — two-way