07-20-2001, 05:21 PM
This does absolutely nothing for Utah.Utah signs Amaechi; Polynice apparently gone
By Tim Korte, The Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz, hoping for more production at center, signed free agent John Amaechi to a multiyear contract Thursday. Terms weren't disclosed.
Amaechi, 30, spent the last two seasons with the Orlando Magic. He averaged 7.9 points and 3.3 rebounds in 2000-01.
"We're happy to have him aboard," said Jazz vice president Kevin O'Connor. "Offensively, he can play with his back to the basket. He has a big strong body and we feel he can help us inside."
Reports earlier this week suggested the Jazz planned to split their $4.5 million exception on Amaechi and another player. O'Connor refused to comment on salary terms.
Amaechi, a 6-foot-10, 270-pound three-year veteran, became an afterthought in Orlando after the Magic signed Patrick Ewing and Horace Grant this week. He picked the Jazz over the Lakers, Bulls and Orlando.
"He wanted the opportunity to play for a good team, and Orlando now has a logjam at the big positions," agent William Sweek said.
Utah pursued Amaechi last summer, but he chose to re-sign for one year with Orlando. At the time, he reportedly passed up a five-year, $17 million offer from the NBA champion Lakers.
Amaechi was born in Boston, but grew up in Manchester, England, and played in college at Penn State. He broke into the NBA with Cleveland in 1995-96, but then spent two seasons in the French League.
By acquiring Amaechi, it appears the Jazz have parted with journeyman center Olden Polynice, who opted out of his contract in May. He started 79 games last season, averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 rebounds.
"I really don't want to make a comment about Olden except to say he is a valuable big man and we know he'll wind up playing in the league," said O'Connor, adding he can't rule out Polynice returning.
Agent Dwight Manley, who represents Polynice, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
More memorable than Polynice's play on the court last season was his guilty plea in January to charges of impersonating a police officer and disorderly conduct stemming from a traffic confrontation.
He was suspended one game by the NBA office.
Polynice followed another motorist on Oct. 28 because he believed the driver had cut him off. While they argued, Polynice flashed a badge that turned out to be an honorary badge from the Los Angeles Police Department.
To fill Polynice's starting slot, Amaechi will contend against Greg Ostertag, who remains under contract through 2003-04.
Ostertag, often criticized for his soft game, has been mentioned this summer in potential trades. However, the six-year, $39 million contact extension he signed in 1997 makes it hard for Utah to move him.
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