UTAH JAZZ

Undrafted Trent Forrest Continues Success With Jazz

Aug 12, 2021, 4:05 PM
Utah Jazz guard Trent Forrest (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)...
Utah Jazz guard Trent Forrest (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah –  Utah Jazz guard Trent Forrest had one of the more eventful days of his young life on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old began the day by signing his second two-way contract with the Jazz, ensuring he begins the season on the team’s roster in October and finished the day by hitting the game-winning free-throw in sudden-death overtime to keep the Jazz summer league team undefeated in Las Vegas.

“It’s been a great day.,” Forrest said after the game. “Just knowing that I’m coming back with the Jazz was a big thing for me, and then to come out with these guys and get a win, it just makes it even better.”

Forrest is one of the rare success stories among players who go undrafted after their senior season but find a way to stick around in the NBA.

After a successful four-year career with the suddenly star-laden Florida State Seminoles, Forrest accepted a camp invite with the Jazz shortly after the draft passed by without hearing his name called.

Without the advantage of a summer league last season which was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Forrest signed a two-way contract with the Jazz the day after the draft, locking him into a real opportunity in the NBA.

It didn’t take long for the guard to reveal why the Jazz were intrigued by his play.

Going against future Hall of Famer Chris Paul in his first preseason game, Forrest held his own during extended minutes in the fourth quarter. After the game, Jazz head coach Quin Snyder called Forrest “a very cerebral player.”

As both Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell suffered injuries throughout the regular season, Snyder turned to Forrest as an undrafted rookie to fill the void left by Joe Ingles who moved into the starting lineup to replace the injured All-Star duo.

Over a 10-game stretch between late April and early May, Forrest averaged 7.0 points 3.4 rebounds, and 2.5 assists while playing 18.5 minutes per game.

Even before Forrest was forced to fill that role, his play garnered attention from his teammates. After an eight point, six assist outing in 20 minutes against the Orlando Magic, Mitchell interrupted Forrest’s press conference to share his excitement about the rookie guard.

“This kid is a stud,” Mitchell said poking his head into the zoom video. “Stud!”

It was enough to warrant a second invite for Forrest to return to the Jazz in the Salt Lake City and Las Vegas Summer Leagues, opportunities he hasn’t let go to waste.

Forrest was the fifth leading overall scorer in Salt Lake averaging 14.3 points per game while leading the league in assists at 9.0 per game.

In Vegas, Forrest leads the Jazz roster in scoring at 13 points per game and is second in the league overall averaging 8.0 assists per game.

Just one game into the Vegas Summer League, the Jazz announced that Forrest would be back with the team next season.

“We’re really a tight group, and they look out and help me a lot,” Forrest said of the Jazz veterans with whom he spent extended time last season. “I just enjoyed being around those guys and I learned so much.”

Even before inking his deal, Jazz general manager Justin Zanik explained Forrest’s value on the roster.

“Trent’s certainly had some minutes this year,” Zanik said. “and I think that experience has translated to him being able to connect guys on the court.”

That connectivity has proven to be successful on the floor as Forrest’s teams are a perfect 5-0 so far in summer league play.

That success has spread off the floor for Forrest as well. When the NBA originally adopted two-way contracts, players earned a flat rate of $75,000 with the potential to make as much as $204,000 more if they spent the maximum 45 days on their team’s main roster.

However, with teams struggling to fill active rosters due to COVID-19 last season, the NBA changed two-way pay from a flat rate of $75,000 to $449,155, half of the rookie minimum.

Due to the success of the league’s two-way program, the NBA and the Players Associated decided to carry over last year’s rules regarding two-way players, ensuring another $462,629 for players like Forrest if they fulfill their two-way deals.

Between Mitchell, Conley, Ingles, Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson, and rookie draft pick Jared Butler, Forrest finds himself competing for playing time in one of the most crowded backcourts in the league.

However, after his success last season and in this year’s summer league, he’s proven he’s worthy of his spot in the NBA.

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