Utah Jazz guard Trent Forrest (3) celebrates after draining three point pointer as the Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets play an NBA basketball game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. Forrest will be eligible to play in the playoffs after the Jazz converted his two-way contract to a standard deal. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz’s final playoff roster spot has been filled.
Trent Forrest’s two-way deal has been converted to a standard deal, according to a report from ESPN.com, making the point guard eligible for the playoffs.
His availability for the postseason, which will begin next weekend, is still in question after Forrest suffered a mid-foot ligament sprain during Utah’s win over Oklahoma City last Wednesday.
Forrest will miss Utah’s regular-season finale on Sunday in Portland but will be re-evaluated before the first round begins.
The second-year guard appeared in 60 games (six starts) this season and averaged 3.3 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 12.8 minutes per night.
While his lack of a deep shot has prevented from taking a larger role on the team, Forrest has carved out a nice spot on the roster. Early in the season, coach Quin Snyder used him for a couple minutes in the first half to simply steal more rest time for Mike Conley. But the numbers always seemed to be good when Forrest was in, so as the season has progressed, Snyder used him in more and more situations.
“Trent’s someone that his teammates trust,” said Snyder before mentioning a game where Forrest was surprisingly used as a roll man in a small-small pick and roll. “He’s got a nice float game, he can pass and he’s an excellent finisher. He’s been the best guy on our team in isolation situations against the switch. So there’s a lot of things that he’s able to do, particularly with his length and his ability to defend multiple positions — whether it’s seven minutes on Steph Curry, some minutes on (Kevin Durant), whether it’s minutes on (Luka) Doncic. That’s unique.”
It probably wasn’t a coincidence that he mentioned both Curry and Doncic — one of which the Jazz will see in the first round.
“I think he’s in a really good spot as far as what he’s capable of doing and the fit on this team because of his size and his length,” Snyder said. “He’s got some deficiencies like every player does. … But he’s really efficient in situations because he’s figured out how to play to the strengths. … I think he adds a lot to our team.”
Conley said Forrest has been in good spirits since the injury, and that the team is hopeful he can return soon. The Jazz making him eligible for the playoffs may be a sign he’ll be able to suit up sooner than later — or it could be just doing right by a player that vastly over performed his two-way contract.
In past seasons, Forrest would have only been eligible to be active for 50 games on a two-way contract. But due to new two-way rules implemented to help teams deal with COVID-19 outbreaks, the maximum number of games was scrapped; however, Forrest received the per-game pay of an NBA minimum salary for each contest he was active for after the 50-game mark.
“Trent’s been such an important part to our team,” Conley said. “We joke a lot — he’s my only other point guard I’ve got. Everybody else is a combo and can score and do other stuff, but he’s truthfully one of the more skilled playmakers we have on our team — and a dual threat as far as defensively being able to apply pressure; and on offense being able to apply pressure to the rim and create for guys.
“Missing him will be huge, however long that is. … He understands what he means to our team, so hopefully we get him back soon.”
Ryan Miller has covered the Utah Jazz for KSL.com since 2018.