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Jazz: C.J. Miles returns to Utah as veteran among young Cavs

Published January 19, 2013 2:24 pm

Now in veteran role with Cavs, small forward in search of fresh start.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

C.J. Miles arrived in Utah as a skinny, fuzzy-faced 18-year-old who had just graduated from Skyline High School in Dallas.

Nearly 500 preseason, regular-season and playoff games later, Miles returns to EnergySolutions Arena on Saturday night, when Cleveland plays the Jazz.

"It's a little bit weird," Miles said. "... [But] as a competitor, I want to go out and win a basketball game. That's my job. That's what I do."

Miles' stay with the Jazz ended after last season, when he averaged 9.1 points but shot only 38 percent from the field.

Overloaded with wing players, Utah did not attempt to re-sign Miles, who talked to a handful of teams before ending up in Cleveland.

"I wanted to be part of that youth movement they have going," Miles, 25, said. "... I thought I could bring a little bit of 'veteranism,' even though I'm still young enough to be part of the youth movement."

So far this season, Miles averages 11.2 points. He shoots 38.3 percent from the 3-point line, which is within a fraction of his career high.

Miles has also made 12 starts for coach Byron Scott — only two less than last season with the Jazz.

"I had kind of a rough start," Miles said. "But then I found myself. I got adjusted, and now I'm very comfortable playing with the guys. ... Ever since that rough start, I've been fine."

The Jazz selected Miles early in the second round of the 2005 draft. They owned the 27th pick and had considered using it on him, but that was before Utah pulled off a late trade with Portland.

The Jazz moved up from sixth to third in the first round so they could draft Deron Williams. They lost the 27th pick in the deal.

Utah didn't expect Miles would be available when it picked again, but he was still on the board, and the Jazz took him at No. 34. They even gave him guaranteed money.

During the next seven seasons, Miles thrilled and frustrated the Jazz and their fans.

He once scored 40 points in a game and averaged 14.4 points during a 10-game playoff run in 2010.

He also shot over 35 percent from the 3-point just one time and, at times, his defense didn't seem to match his athleticism.

"C.J. was a young guy when he came into this league, and we had a pretty good team," said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin. "We had a group of veteran guys, and it was a growing process for him."

Twice during Miles' first two seasons, the Jazz dispatched him to the NBA Development League.

"I remember he was heartbroken," Corbin said. "He didn't know what to expect — what was going on — because he was so young. But he learned a lot and got through it."

In his third year with the Jazz, Miles averaged five points in 60 games.

Despite the so-so production, Oklahoma City gave him a four-year, $14.8 million offer sheet after the season.

The Jazz matched it, however, and kept him in Utah until last summer.

"I spent a lot of time with him," Corbin said. "So did the other coaches. ... He was a young guy that was extremely talented. But it was a growing process — and not only for him. We grew with him, too."

Miles' former coaches and teammates look forward to seeing him again.

"He's not one of our guys anymore," Corbin said. "But he will always be part of the Jazz family. ... We enjoyed our time with him."

Said Paul Millsap: "Me and C.J. are good buddies. We go back a long time. ... We still keep in touch a lot and I'm happy to see him doing well. Hopefully, he can keep doing it — just not Saturday." —

Cavaliers at Jazz

O At EnergySolutions Arena

Tipoff • Saturday, 7 p.m.

TV • ROOT

Radio • 1280 AM, 1600 AM, 97.5 FM

Records • Jazz 21-19; Cavs 10-31

Season history • First game

Last meeting • Jazz, 109-100 (March 5, 2012)

About the Jazz • They have won four of their last five. ... They are 9-5 against the Eastern Conference. ... Going back to Nov. 14, 2009, they have won five straight over Cleveland. ... In the last 10 games, G/F Gordon Hayward averages 15.9 points on 19-of-34 3-point shooting. ... This is their fifth home game since Dec. 16.

About the Cavs • They are 3-5 in their last eight games. ... They come off a 93-88 win at Portland. ... G Kyrie Irving, the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, averages 23.3 points and 5.6 assists. ... Rookie G Dion Waiters, the fourth overall pick in last year's draft, averages 14.5 points. ... C Anderson Varejao won't play (knee).