Utah Jazz: Former NBA big man Kenny Gattison emerges as possible assistant coach candidate
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — It's possible Jeff Hornacek's replacement is helping the Utah Jazz at Zions Bank Basketball Center this week.
Kenny Gattison, a former NBA player and coach, was invited to assist the Jazz with an ongoing free agent mini-camp, raising questions about his potential for ending up with the organization.
Utah has had a vacant assistant coach position since Hornacek was hired as the Suns' head coach two weeks ago, making Gattison's involvement with the Jazz all the more interesting.
Adding to the intrigue of Gattison's invitation to Utah, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin was his teammate in Phoenix during the 1988-89 season. Also, Gattison, 49, grew up in Wilmington, N.C., which is three hours east of the 50-year-old Corbin's hometown of Columbia, S.C.
It wouldn't be unprecedented for Corbin to hire a former teammate. The NBA's ninth-longest-tenured head coach has done that twice since taking over for Jerry Sloan on Feb. 10, 2011 — first bringing Hornacek (Suns, Jazz teammate) onto his staff on a full-time basis and then tabbing Sidney Lowe (Minnesota teammate) to be his lead assistant that summer.
Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey would not comment on the team's assistant coach search Wednesday. But he has made it clear that this hire is Corbin's to make.
Corbin, who has one year remaining on his three-season contract as the Jazz's head coach, was unavailable for a comment. He has yet to speak publicly about the job search.
The 6-foot-8 Gattison played for three NBA teams between 1986-96, including stops in Phoenix, Charlotte and Vancouver. His best season came in 1991-92 when he averaged 12.7 points and 7.1 rebounds for the Charlotte Hornets.
Since then, Gattison has held several coaching positions, including his most recent stint in Atlanta as one of Larry Drew's assistants from 2010-12. Gattison was an assistant under John Calipari in New Jersey from 1996-98. He's also been an assistant with New Orleans (2003-09) and his alma mater, Old Dominion.
Gattison actually has a history with the Jazz, having been traded to Utah from Orlando during the summer of 1996. However, he never played for the franchise as he retired and took a coaching gig with the Nets.
Gattison would give the Jazz additional help with their big men if he's hired.
Hall of Fame power forward Karl Malone will be helping coach Utah's big men, including Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Jeremy Evans, on an "as-needed basis," but that is only a part-time position.
Sloan recently told the Deseret News that the Jazz have contacted him about rejoining the organization, but it's not known what his possible position could be. The Hall of Fame coach has been at Utah's pre-draft workouts and attended the NBA Pre-Draft Combine in Chicago last month after being invited by the Jazz. It seems unlikely that he'd end up on the bench with Corbin, though.
It still remains possible that Brad Jones could be promoted from his position as the Jazz's director of player development to full-time assistant coach.
That scenario played out last summer when Michael Sanders received a promotion from that position after then-assistant coach Scott Layden was hired as the Spurs' assistant general manager.
If Jones were moved up, it wouldn't be surprising to see his assistant, former Ute Johnnie Bryant, get bumped up into the player development director position.
It also wouldn't be a shock if Jazz video coordinator Jefferson Sweeney received a promotion into one of the player development coaching positions. Sweeney has worked in the background with the organization for the past 13 years, becoming an integral part of the team's scouting squad after originally starting as an EnergySolutions Arena security guard.
The Jazz also invited three college assistant coaches to help them with their 24-man free-agent camp, including BYU's Mark Pope, Kentucky's Orlando Antigua and Gonzaga's Tommy Lloyd.
"It's sort of like a coaching clinic for them," Jazz head scout David Fredman said. "It gives us a chance to maybe ask them about their players and players they played against.
"Maybe in the future," he added, "you might even see more foreign coaches involved with us in summer projects and things like that."
Hornacek recently hired three assistant coaches in Phoenix, making it unlikely that Gattison would end up back with his first NBA team.
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