Harpring looking for ‘Phase 2' of career

Matt Harpring was at the Hawks-Jazz game on Friday night, but he was wearing a suit and behind a microphone, instead of in uniform for Utah.

Harpring, the 33-year-old former Marist and Georgia Tech star, won't say that he has retired, but all indications point to his playing days being over.

"I've been blessed with it, my 12 years here in the NBA, but all good things come to an end," said Harpring, who was helping on the Jazz's broadcast. "I'm trying to start Phase 2 of my career."

Harpring is sitting out this season while recovering from an infection in his surgically-repaired ankle. He also had two microfracture knee surgeries in 2008, but played in 63 games last season, despite extreme pain, injections and multiple knee drainings.

Doctors told him in the offseason that if he continued to play, he would risk doing permanent damage. At this point, a resumption of his career would require "a miracle that I wake up and all of a sudden I feel great," he said.

Harpring's plan is to stay involved in the NBA and is spending this season investigating his options. He has done some TV work, for the Jazz and for NBA TV, and has worked out potential players for the Jazz. He has even written an article for nba.com.

"Once it's in your blood, it's in your blood," he said of the game.

Without the stress of playing and training, Harpring is pain free. He is living with his family in Atlanta. His career likely will end after 665 games and with an 11.5 scoring average.

"Some people get hurt in Year 1 and never play," he said. "I don't feel shortchanged in the least."

Etc.

Forward Joe Smith did not play for the fourth consecutive game, healing a dislocated thumb. He is not expected to play against Chicago today. … Guard Jamal Crawford, center Al Horford and forward Zaza Pachulia hosted Christmas events for children this week.