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Utah Jazz: An empty feeling settles in Jazzland with early exit, uncertain future

Published: Thursday, April 18 2013 2:50 p.m. MDT

Jazz locker room clean out supercut

He acknowledged a "blame-the-coach culture in sports," but pointed out that this organization doesn't function like that.

"We subscribe to a little different philosophy," Lindsey said. "I know that's not going to pacify all of the masses and our fans, but, one, Ty's the right person to lead us. Two, he's really growing as a coach."

Not one without faults, though.

Corbin has admitted this has been a learning process for him since he took over for Hall of Famer Sloan on the fly in 2011. Injuries and rotations were difficult to juggle. For every home win against Miami, San Antonio and Oklahoma City, the Jazz had so many more head-scratching and loss-filled road trips that proved to be the team's demise.

Live, lose and learn.

"I think," Corbin said, "the experiences that we've had the last two years will make us better down the road."

That will all soon be discussed when Corbin, 87-89 as a head coach, has a season-ending session of his own with Jazz executives.

"He's not the perfect coach. I'm not the perfect general manager. We're not the perfect organization," Lindsey said. "What we're going to do is next week we're going to get in the room together and take the gloves off and get real honest with each other about where we fell short, where we can improve and the assets that we do have — and we do have a lot of positive qualities — and hopefully over the coming weeks and months do a good job of problem-solving."

One major issue: The empty scene inside of the Jazz's arena and post-cleanout locker room almost resembles its roster.

Thursday might have been the final day up to 10 players left the building on the corner of John Stockton Boulevard and Karl Malone Drive as members of the Jazz.

The only players under contract for the 2013-14 season are Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks and Jeremy Evans. The Jazz are thrilled about their returns, but a lot of work remains to reload the locker room.

Two players have options — Marvin Williams (player) and Kevin Murphy (team). The rest will become free agents the moment the calendar strikes July 1.

That free-agent-to-be group includes four starters and key cogs: Al Jefferson, Millsap, Mo Williams and Randy Foye. Other players to soon hit the open market include fan favorite DeMarre Carroll, veteran point guards Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson, and late-season addition Jerel McNeal.

Lindsey's first season as general manager was relatively quiet on the personnel front. He opted to pass on making any trades, waived disgruntled guard Raja Bell in March and brought in two D-League players for short stints at the end of the season.

With between 8-10 roster spots opening up soon, this summer won't be nearly as serene.

Lindsey smiles at that prospect, calling it "a real opportunity and a real positive." The Jazz will have three picks at the June 27 draft, including their own No. 14 pick (unless they strike lottery gold), a No. 21 selection from Golden State to finish off the Deron Williams deal with the Nets and one second-rounder (No. 44 overall).

Utah also has Larry Bird rights on Big Al and Millsap, meaning the team has multiple options and greater payroll flexibility in potentially doing sign-and-trades or striking long-term deals with the veterans.

"We have a lot of options whether it's to be bold right now if that opportunity presents itself or to be really strategic and patient," Lindsey said. "So, we're real fortunate."

Lindsey wouldn't comment on specifics, offering no insight into the team's plans for Jefferson and Millsap or its vacant point guard position.

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