Utah Jazz sign point guard backup Howard Eisley
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Howard Eisley, the free-agent guard who became a hot property during the Utah Jazz’s playoff run, spurned offers from at least two other teams to re-sign with the Jazz.
``I always thought that this was the best place for me,″ Eisley said Thursday. ``Everything here is suited to my game and what I do best.″
Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but Eisley said, ``It’s enough. I’m happy.″
The Salt Lake Tribune said Eisley made $298,000 last season, and the new contract is worth $4 million for three years.
The Los Angeles Clippers reportedly offered the three-year veteran a more lucrative deal, but Eisley has found a niche as John Stockton’s backup at point guard _ and he wasn’t about to give it up.
``My agent mentioned some other deals to me, but in my mind I was always coming back here,″ he said. ``I’d rather be coming off the bench on a team that’s winning than starting on a team that isn’t.″
Only starting guard Jeff Hornacek, a free agent, remains to be signed, but Hornacek and team officials have said they expect to reach agreement on a new contract shortly.
Eisley was one of five Jazz players to play in all 82 games last season. He has appeared in 147 straight games the last two years.
Eisley averaged 4.5 point last season and was fourth on the team with 2.4 assists. He improved those numbers to 5.3 points and 2.5 assists in the playoffs.
Eisley will share playing time not only with Stockton, but first-round pick Jacque Vaughn of Kansas.
When the Jazz selected Vaughn in June’s NBA draft, many observers thought Eisley’s days in Salt Lake City were numbered. But vice president of basketball operations Scott Layden said Thursday the club valued Eisley and always intended to keep him.
The 1997-98 season will be Eisley’s fourth in the NBA. A second-round draft pick by Minnesota (30th overall) in 1994, he played for the Timberwolves and the San Antonio Spurs in his rookie season.
After failing to make the Utah roster in training camp in 1995, he played briefly in the CBA before Utah signed him on Dec. 7, 1995. He has played in every Jazz game since.
Eisley, a Detroit native, graduated from Boston College in 1994.