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News » Maynor, Price still battling to be backup point

Maynor, Price still battling to be backup point

Maynor, Price still battling to be backup point LOS ANGELES ? It may not be the most-pressing issue of the Jazz's preseason, but it's become one of the more entertaining. Will rookie Eric Maynor win the post, or does combo guard Ronnie Price finally get his chance to serve as the Jazz's primary backup point behind starter Deron Williams? In coach Jerry Sloan's world, and probably CNN's too, it's way too early to call the race.

Especially with just four of eight preseason precincts reporting ? and even with another two to close this weekend, when in a double doubleheader the Jazz visit the Los Angeles Clippers today at the Staples Center and, depending on whether they win or lose, face either the Los Angeles Lakers or Charlotte here on Sunday. "I don't know where I'll go," said Sloan, whose Jazz also have exhibition road games Tuesday at Portland and Friday at Sacramento before opening the regular season Oct. 28 at Denver. "I'll just wait until the season starts, and see what's gone on in the exhibition season, how they work in practice and that sort of thing." Awarding even a limited reserve role to the youngster ? Williams will get the bulk of minutes at the point, with no more than 8-to-10 available to his backup on many nights ? would be notable indeed in a Jazz planet where rookie typically are to be seen but not heard. Still, Sloan seemingly has significant degree of fondness for Maynor ? and, based on the way the two have been used so far in the preseason, it's possible may be more inclined to find minutes for the much-liked Price at shooting guard. "He (Maynor) doesn't look like he's strong enough to hold up his breakfast," the Jazz coach said, "but he's got a little bit more toughness than what he looks, I think, at times, and he looks to get people the Basketball. "He's coming along fine." The Jazz's first-round draft choice ? selected 20th overall out of Colonial Athletic Association power Virginia Commonwealth ? had 14 points, dished five assists and shot 4-for-9 from the field, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, while logging 23 minutes in Utah's 99-96 preseason home win over Portland on Thursday. The 22-year-old has averaged 19 minutes, 7.5 points, 4 assists, 2 steals and 1 turnover while shooting 33.3 percent ? but 42.9 percent from behind the long-distance line ? so far in the preseason. "He's confident," said Sloan, who wants the slender 175-pounder to bulk up a bit and improve his strength. "He's a very confident person, and he likes to pass the ball. And, obviously, if he can shoot the ball in those situations, that makes a huge difference." Maynor knows that, too. "You don't understand how many knocks I've heard on (his outside shooting)," he said. "If I'm open, I'm going to shoot it and I'm going to shoot it with confidence at all times." Asked if Maynor is ahead of where one should expect for a rookie point at this juncture in his first NBA preseason, Sloan answered in the affirmative. "Yeah, he is, for the most part," the Jazz coach said. "Deron was awfully good when he came in as a rookie. I think (Maynor) understands what's going on. He's picked up quite a few little nuances. "Fortunately he was here for the summer, and he was with us in Orlando (at a July summer league there), and had a chance to see what we're trying to do. And he picked up things pretty quick. "We'll see," Sloan added. "This is still exhibition season. It's not like the regular season. But that's where you get a chance to learn, and hopefully he can do that and give us support there." Price, meanwhile, has averaged 20 minutes, 7 points, 3.3 assists and 0.7 turnovers while shooting 33.3 percent both from the field and on trey tries. "We love Ronnie's spirit, enthusiasm," Sloan said. "He deserves to play." Somewhere. Anywhere in the backcourt, it seems. "Ronnie's playing great Basketball," said Williams, who's also quite high on Maynor. "He (Price) is so tough; he can slide to the 2 (shooting guard). ... Even though he's smaller, he doesn't give up a lot because of how tough he is." Price, deep down, seems prefer the point. But after playing mostly behind former No. 2 points Jason Hart and Brevin Hart during his first two seasons with the Jazz , the 6-2 Utah Valley State product will take playing time wherever he can get it. "I'm happy they're giving me an opportunity just to be on the court, period," Price said. "Whether it's at the 2 or at the 1, wherever I can find minutes on the floor is good for me." Maynor wants to play as well, and seems to sense his minutes ? whether now, or in the very near future ? will come in due time. "I knew when I got drafted this was the right situation for me," he said. "You know, just learning from guys ... like Deron, and you've got Coach Sloan out here ... I think it's great. "We've got three guys ? me, Ronnie Price and Deron ? that whenever he (Sloan) calls upon us, we're going to go out there and perform. Deron's the starting point guard; everybody knows that. But whenever when (Sloan) calls on somebody else, we don't want (any) letdown. That's why we're competing so much." e-mail:

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Added: October 18, 2009


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