Rookie Jared Butler On Jazz: ‘This Is Where I’m Supposed To Be’
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz introduced rookie guard Jared Butler on Saturday, making the Baylor product available to the media for the first time since draft night.
The guard was never expected to land in Utah as most projections had the college star protected go anywhere from the late lottery to the early 20s in the draft.
However, a mixture of unexpected draft selections and concerns about Butler’s health allowed the guard to slip from a likely spot in the teens down to the 40th pick where the Jazz gladly picked him up.
Though the Jazz were happy to choose Butler, it wasn’t an easy night for Baylor guard.
“It was a rough night for me,” Butler admitted. “But when the Jazz called me I was just extremely thankful. This is where I’m supposed to be.”
Butler had multiple issues leading up to draft night that may have caused him to slip into the second round. First, the guard was diagnosed with a heart condition upon leaving high school and committing to play basketball at Alabama. Butler soon transferred to Baylor where he was cleared to play and had an extremely successful three-year career for the Bears.
However, when he declared for the NBA Draft, he once again had to gain clearance from the NBA’s Fitness-to-Play program regarding his previous heart condition. That process involved Butler speaking to a panel of three doctors, one from the NBA, one from the NBA Players Association, and a third doctor chosen by the previous two.
“I wanted to state my case and get my last remarks about why I should play,” Butler said. “They deliberated and talked through it and then ultimately came to the decision.”
That decision was made just 12 days before the draft, limiting teams’ exposure to the guard during the pre-draft process.
While other teams may have been scared off from drafting the guard due to the questions surrounding his health, Jazz General Manager Justin Zanik said they were comfortable calling his name on Thursday night.
“We’re excited to add him as the Utah Jazz,” Zanik said. “I don’t want to get into any other of those details. It’s just that we feel really good about him.”
Zanik wasn’t the only member of the Jazz organization that was happy to see Butler land in Utah. The rookie knows former Jazz Vice President of Basketball Operations Dennis Lindsey who attended Baylor and is an ardent supporter of the team. Butler missed playing with Lindsey’s son Jake by just one season with the Bears.
The guard also shared a special moment with Jazz coach Quin Snyder on draft night after falling into the second round.
“Coach Quin was the first person to call me on draft night,” Butler said. “He was pretty emotional, [he] understood my story and relayed to me that he was extremely happy that I got to 40. You could just tell that he drafted me as a person and wanted me for who I am as a person and not just my basketball skills.”
Though Butler is in Salt Lake City the Jazz, his availability for summer league remains in question. The Jazz originally owned the 30th pick in the draft but traded down with the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for the 40th pick and two future second-rounders.
Until the deal is fully cleared by the NBA and the guard can sign a contract with the Jazz, his status with the team remains in flux.
“With the Salt Lake City Summer League, and then Vegas, he’ll be here,” Zanik said. “Playing or not playing we’ll take, we’ll take that by ear.’
The Salt Lake City Summer League runs August 3-6, while the Vegas Summer League runs August 8-17.
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