Media reports of Kevin O’Connor’s departure are inaccurate and he is not stepping down. —Randy Rigby, President of the Utah Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY — The Kevin O'Connor Era apparently is not coming to an end with the Utah Jazz.
KUTV News reported Tuesday night that O'Connor is stepping down from his position as the Jazz's executive vice president of basketball operations. The Ch. 2 report also claimed that O'Connor will remain with the organization in a consultant role.
However, Jazz CEO Greg Miller shot that report down from this Twitter account (@GregInUtah) on Wednesday morning with this tweet:
"Sources very close to the Utah Jazz (me) verify that Kevin O'Connor is not stepping down as EVP of Basketball Operations."
Jazz president Randy Rigby also refuted the report with this statement released on the team's website:
"Media reports of Kevin O’Connor’s departure are inaccurate and he is not stepping down. He is fully engaged in Jazz preparations for draft season. The working relationship between Kevin and Dennis Lindsey is unchanged as both individuals provide valuable expertise, knowledge and perspective toward building a championship-caliber team. Kevin will be a member of the Jazz family for a long time. No further comment is needed."
Neither O'Connor nor Dennis Lindsey returned phone calls late Tuesday night. Two high-ranking members of the organization said they were not aware whether or not O'Connor was leaving his executive position.
Asked if he was stepping down, O'Connor told the Salt Lake Tribune: "Not true and I have no comment."
If that turns out to be the case, O'Connor and Lindsey, the Jazz's general manager, will continue to work together in creating the team's roster.
Lindsey was hired to replace the 65-year-old O'Connor as the franchise's general manager last August after the longtime Jazz executive decided to step down from the demanding day-to-day duties required of that position.
The two were partners, with O'Connor leading the charge from an executive position and Lindsey handling the daily grind. It was a relationshiop O'Connor, then the second-longest-tenured GM, said he looked forward to as he called Lindsey "a new playmate."
At the time, Miller told Lindsey at a press conference, "I view your arrival here as an almost tangible step in our march to a championship."
Jody Genessy and the crew from ESPN 700 sports radio talk about recent reports and the future of Jazz management
O'Connor has been calling the shots in player acquisitions since taking over for Scott Layden after the team's NBA Finals runs in 1999.
KUTV reported that O'Connor's "intensity" led to his decision to transition into a consulting role. The station also reported that O'Connor and his wife, Linda, sold their home in Utah on April 17 (the final day of the 2012-13 season) and will relocate to North Carolina nearby his alma mater, Belmont Abbey College.
The longtime Jazz executive said he was sold on Lindsey when Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told him San Antonio ownership would hire him to be GM in the hypothetical case they bought a new team.
"Kevin is just a jewel," Lindsey said. "He handled this with humility and concern for the organization."
After joining the Jazz in '99, O'Connor helped rebuild Utah into a playoff team after the departures of John Stockton and Karl Malone and then following the surprising exits of Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams.
Though occasionally criticized for transactions such as Andrei Kirilenko's $86 million deal and drafting Raul Lopez instead of Tony Parker, O'Connor has been praised for trading up to draft Williams in 2005 and for bringing overlooked talents like Paul Millsap, Wesley Matthews and Mo Williams into the league.
In 2011, O'Connor pulled the trigger on a shocking deal, sending Deron Williams to the Nets in exchange for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, two first-round picks (Enes Kanter and this year's No. 21) and $3 million.
The organization has missed out on the playoffs in two of the three postseasons since that move, but Lindsey has lauded the daring deal for giving the Jazz an enormous amount of "flexibility" for building a championship contender in the future.
Since its string of 20 straight playoff appearances, mostly during the Stockton & Malone days, the Jazz have failed to make the postseason in five of the past 10 years.
Last summer, Jazz owner Gail Miller voiced her support of O'Connor at Lindsey's introductory press conference.
"We're very grateful that you're staying on, that you'll continue to be a part of the Utah Jazz," a teary-eyed Miller said. "We need you. We appreciate you. You can mentor a lot of people that will look to you for the wisdom that you have."
O'Connor did not appear on his weekly radio spot Monday night with Jazz-owned radio station, 1280 The Zone.
Jazz executives — management and ownership — have been meeting in recent days for their annual end-of-season interviews.
The Jazz have a monumental offseason ahead of them.
Only five of the Jazz's 15 players on their season-ending roster — Favors, Kanter, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks and Jeremy Evans — have guaranteed contracts for the 2013-14 season.16 comments on this story
It's likely Marvin Williams will exercise his player option to return for one more year, and Utah has a team option on rookie Kevin Murphy.
But the Jazz will have to bring in or re-sign at least a half-dozen players this offseason.
Utah has three picks in the June 27 NBA Draft, including the No. 14 spot (barring a miraculous lottery win), the No. 21 (via the Warriors from the Nets) and the 46th selection.