The Jazz's new coaching foursome could become a five piece.
With young Utah big men Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter in need of isolated training and veteran Al Jefferson yet to reach his ceiling, Utah's front-court loaded roster would benefit from a player development coach.
Much like the recent hiring of assistant Sidney Lowe, though, the addition hinges on timing.
If the NBA lockout ends by Monday and the league preserves a full 82-game season, the Jazz believe that adding a player development coach makes sense. But if the work stoppage continues and a shortened season is in the future ― one that features hectic travel, back-to-back-to-back contests and a lack of downtime ― hiring a skills coach whose job is predicated upon productive practice dates will likely be tabled.
“We'll look at it,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “We'll see how it plays out.”
By Brian T. Smith
The Salt Lake Tribune
First published Oct 07 2011 03:36PM
Updated Oct 7, 2011 11:59PM
Sidney Lowe officially became a Jazz assistant coach early Thursday morning. But the basketball lifer has discreetly been holding the title for weeks.
Lowe has already been involved in several team-evaluation meetings with Utah coach Tyrone Corbin, and assistants Scott Layden and Jeff Hornacek. The foursome have relied upon video of the Jazz’s frustrating 2010-11 season to break down everything from players and defensive philosophies to the pick-and-roll.
Corbin entered the offseason contemplating what he wanted the rebuilding Jazz to become. He knew that he wanted toughness and believed that Utah needed a new identity.
Now, the Jazz’s coaches are using the NBA lockout as an extended study session, throwing a cluster of ideas against a wall and seeing what ultimately sticks.
Hornacek described the closed-door conferences as four coaches examining "different situations." A defensive set is considered, then a question is asked: "Can all of our guys get it?" It’s a balance of simple basketball fundamentals with cutting-edge innovations, all in the hope of improving Utah’s chances whenever the league opens its doors.
Not knowing who exactly will be on the Jazz’s roster when the season starts forces some proposals to remain hypothetical.
But the knowledge that the lockout could end Monday, free agency could start in two weeks and an accelerated training camp might begin by the end of October has pushed Utah to embrace the unknown.
"We want to break down our defense," Lowe said. "What did we do last year? What’s good for us? What’s not good for us? Look at everything: What can we use?"
He added: "We’re basketball coaches. That’s what we love talking [about]. We could sit in there all night long."
The open conversation has already made a mark on Lowe, who was considering two other NBA jobs before he joined Corbin in Salt Lake City.
Where some teams would have hired a traditional lead assistant — a longtime X’s and O’s guru or an up-and-coming defensive specialist — Corbin opted for experience and all-around knowledge in making his first hire. He wants all three assistants to have equal say and power, and the Jazz will initially use a by-committee approach as they retool and refine a team that finished just 8-20 after coach Jerry Sloan and assistant Phil Johnson unexpectedly resigned.
"We want everybody to have a voice," Corbin said. "We want the players to respect what Jeff says [as] if I was saying it, or what Sidney says [as] if I was saying it. … So the guys understand that these are the coaches and they’re to be treated respectfully, because we’re going to respect the players. And if we’re saying something to you, we’re trying to help you get better."
Even the obvious is up for grabs. What if Corbin gets a little heated and earns two technicals in one game?
"We’re splitting it down the middle and we’ll set the rotation at a later date as to if I get kicked out — when I get kicked out," Corbin said.
Sounds like they could be changing things up! Should be interesting to see.
The Jazz are still considering adding a player development coach, The Salt Lake Tribune has learned.
Utah coach Tyrone Corbin is currently backed by assistants Sidney Lowe, Scott Layden and Jeff Hornacek.
Corbin has often said he's open to adding a big-man coach that could aid the development of second-year forward Derrick Favors. Meanwhile, rookie Enes Kanter would especially benefit from an experienced coach who could push him during practices, building up his game and strengthening his confidence.
The timing of the hire initially hinged upon the NBA lockout ending. Now that the work stoppage is close to being over and training camp could start Dec. 9 for a compressed 66-game season, the Jazz are still interested in adding a fifth coach.
However, the official schedule has not been released, and Utah wants to first examine the four-month regular-season calendar — specifically the amount of available practice and off days versus back-to-backs — before moving on the hire. Ideal candidates will also have to be on the market and available to take the job on short notice.
Brian T. Smith
I like the Mark Eaton suggestion, but like Karl "The Mailman" Malone better!
The last one is a comment. Eaton had no skills. He was just huge. Would be the worst choice possible.
"Oh no, no. We done been there. You can't beat the fart out of a dead mule. Let's pass on that. They ain't gonna call.
Wonder why? Can't believe you wouldn't want him around in the summer and training camp at least to work with the big kids.
"You don’t have the luxury to draft projects at the third, fourth, fifth, first, second pick...But you don’t have the time, or who do you have? No disrespect to staff currently in place. Who do you have that can work with that big guy? No disrespect to the coaching staff, ’cause I love Scott Layden. Love ‘em all. But when you draft a kid like that, in essence your franchise is hinging on this.
Malone said he could see himself, John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek one day coaching together. One idea he has is to move the Jazz franchise to New Orleans. Then move the Hornets to Utah, which would mesh nicely with the symbolic honeybee in Utah culture.
Karl probably sees himself as the head coach though.