Utah Jazz: Coach Jerry Sloan intends to be back for 2011-12 season
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Jerry Sloan, currently in his 23rd season as Utah Jazz head coach, intends to return for a 24th in 2011-12.
The Hall of Fame coach confirmed on Sunday that he has verbally agreed to an extension with Jazz management but hasn't made it official with a signature on the contract yet.
As usual, it's believed to be another one-year deal for the 68-year-old.
At the behest of late Jazz owner Larry H. Miller, Sloan has signed a series of short-term contract extensions before his existing deal expires.
"It's the same thing, the same thing as always. Nothing has changed," Sloan said Sunday. "I just haven't gotten around to signing it is all. It's not a big deal, or hasn't been. It's just the way we've done it every year."
The thinking behind the traditional in-season renewal process is so Sloan will never be in a lame-duck coaching situation.
By the same token, Sloan never actually formalizes his decision on whether or not he'll return for another year until taking time to decompress after the season. Even with a signed contract in hand, Sloan wants to make certain during the offseason that he still indeed has the fire in his belly to return.
On Friday, Sloan told veteran league writer Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com that his deal was "pretty much done."
Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor could not be reached for a comment Sunday.
Sloan has racked up 1,193 career coaching victories with the Jazz and Chicago Bulls. He is only 17 victories away from tying Pat Riley (1,210) for third place on the all-time coaching wins list. Don Nelson is the leader with 1,335 victories, which could be topped by Sloan with three more 47-plus-wins seasons.
Frank Layden handed the coaching reins over to Sloan, his assistant, on Dec. 9, 1988, and Sloan has been a fixture on the sporting scene ever since.
Sloan has the longest tenure as coach or manager of one team of all four major professional sports leagues in North America. Recently, retired Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox was next on the list with 21 seasons.
The Class of 2009 Hall of Famer is the only coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games with one franchise, and he's coached one team longer than any other coach in the league's past as well. Red Auerbach was with the Boston Celtics for 16 seasons.
Sloan was asked recently what motivated him to continue coaching.
"I don't know what I'd do. (I'd be bored) if I just went in the house and sat down. I don't see any excitement about that," Sloan told the Deseret News. "I'm fortunate they've allowed me to come back. I've never looked for another job since I've been here, and if I leave this job then I'll have to look for another job — whether it's a Walmart greeter or what have you."
Seeing his players work, improve and battle are among the things that keep Sloan coming back.
"I'd say the most enjoyable part," he added, "is just watching guys compete — whether it's against each other or against the opposing team."
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