Jarrod Uthoff, the former University of Iowa standout who went undrafted last June and has played for three D-League teams in his brief pro career, has found a home of sorts with the Dallas Mavericks.
"Hey, it's another NBA call up for the Texas Legends," Donnie Nelson tells DallasBasketball.com and explaining the move.
Nelson's pride is understandable; he is the owner of the D-League Legends (The team that acquired Uthoff from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants) in addition to serving as the GM of the Mavs (The team that gave him 10-day contract before signing him to a multi-year deal today).
The move guarantees the forward the prorated portion of a minimum-wage contract for the final two weeks of the season. Beyond that, there isn't likely much or any financial tie.
But the Mavericks do see something here.
"His work with the Legends was an important part of our evaluation," Nelson says. "It was about evaluating him as a player playing in our system."
The Legends use the same system, the same playbook, as their big-brother Mavs. It's been within that framework that Dallas staffers have been able to refine their thoughts on the 6-9, 220-pound forward.
Would he be limited to being a catch-and-shoot guy at this level after having been a third-team Associated Press All-America last year at Iowa? Is he a stretch-4 in the mold of Dirk Nowitzki? (obviously, there is only one Dirk ... But there is now, happily, a world of hopefuls and imitators.) Mavs coach Rick Carlisle on Wednesday said Uthoff would likely get some Dallas playing time down the stretch and mentioned him as a "stretch-4.''
Donnie tells us Dallas is impressed with Uthoff's explosion and athleticism. Impressed and "surprised," we would say.
And, adds one organizational source: "we really think there is some potential for him to be a creator on the wing ... and that he is a big small forward."
Now, keep this in perspective. We are still talking about Uthoff -- who was signed by the Toronto Raptors as an undrafted free agent last summer and even during this period in Dallas has appeared only briefly in two games -- as a prospect who needs lots of work at the Summer League, training camp and D-League levels. In 37 D-League games, he has averaged 11.1 points and 6.4 rebounds. Recently with the Legends, he has shown some skill both in the low-post and on the wing. In two Legends starts he is averaging 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 32.6 minutes.
Dallas has nine games remaining this season, and is 4.5 games out of the Western Conference’s final playoff spot. The Mavericks, who play at New Orleans tonight, are in "experimental" mode. Discovering if Jarrod Uthoff can play small forward is now part of the experiment.