Goodbye Andrei Kirilenko. Hello Josh Howard.
That’s what the Utah Jazz are saying in wake of the decision to sign Howard to a one-year deal on Thursday. He chose the Jazz over the Wizards, Spurs, Blazers and Nets according to the Washington Post.
Howard was plagued by injuries in his 1.5 year stint with the Washington Wizards, but is looking for redemption out west.
He was an All-Star back in 2007 as the third best player on those Dallas Maverick teams that never quite got over the hump. As long as his knee is OK, and considering he has already passed a physical provided by the Spurs, he should have a terrific bounce-back season.
He may not put up his career average of 15.1 points and 5.9 rebounds, but he will bring stout defense and high-percentage shooting to the table. He will also be reunited with former Mavs teammate Devin Harris, which should help him feel comfortable on the floor rather quickly.
With the signing of the 6'7", 210-pound forward, it’s officially the end of the Kirilenko era. After years of being subjected to trade rumors, finally he walks as a free agent. Howard is essentially the same player and the Jazz don’t need two of them. Kirilenko will likely end up in New Jersey to play for the only Russian owner in the league.
This is a happy day for Utah. While the exact amount of the deal has yet to be disclosed, this is a great low-risk move.
I’ll leave you with the words of G.M. Kevin O’Conner, who sums up the move perfectly: "The risk is limited but the potential for reward is enormous."