By Ben Golliver
The Jazz announced Sunday the release of veteran guard Raja Bell, who has not played for the team this season.
Bell, 36, will become an unrestricted free agent once he clears waivers but is ineligible for the playoffs because his release came after a Mar. 1 deadline.
A hard-nosed guard known for his defense and three-point shooting, Bell butted heads with Utah coach Tyrone Corbin last season over his playing time and a perceived lack of communication. Bell did not play much down the stretch last season and did not play at all during the 2012 playoffs.
In May 2012, the Associated Press reported Bell called Corbin "unprofessional" during his exit interview and said he would not play for the Jazz in the future because of "irreparable" damage. He delivered on his threat to take his ball and go home; Bell did not attend training camp and was not with the team this season, with the Jazz mutually agreeing that it was better he stayed away.
Bell was on the books for $3.5 million this season, the final year of his contract, and his name came up throughout the summer and into this season as a possible contract buyout candidate or trade piece. Alas, no move came to fruition, and his 2012-13 season goes down as a wasted one, with the Jazz swallowing the entirety of his contract.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports Herb Rudoy, Bell's agent, expressed his client's continued desire to play in the NBA. The team most regularly linked to Bell in rumors this season was the Lakers, as Bell was a key member of the "Seven Seconds or Less" Suns coached by Mike D'Antoni and led by point guard Steve Nash, who are now both in L.A. While the Lakers have an open roster spot, Bell's ineligibility for the playoffs would seem to diminish their short-term interest in him. The Jazz are currently in the thick of the race for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference with a record of 32-31. Yahoo! Sports reported on Friday that Utah, whose roster is now at 14 players, plans to sign Travis Leslie from the D-League.