Utah Jazz hire Jerry Sloan in a senior basketball adviser role
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Jerry Sloan is back with the Utah Jazz.
The Hall of Fame coach has been hired in a front-office position by the team he led to two NBA Finals and coached for 23 years.
The 71-year-old Sloan will take on a role of senior basketball adviser, mostly helping out with scouting on the professional and college ranks, among other duties.
“In my new role with the Jazz franchise, I hope to help the basketball operations staff and Ty (Corbin) in any way that I can to achieve their goals,” Sloan said in a statement released by the team's PR staff. “I would like to thank the Miller family for the opportunity to be part of the organization again.”
Sloan has been with the Jazz coaches and front staff on a daily basis for the past month while the team has prepared for the June 27 NBA Draft and the upcoming free-agency period. He also attended the Chicago NBA Draft Combine at the Jazz's invitation in May.
This is the second big reunion for the Jazz this offseason. Although Utah lost assistant coach Jeff Hornacek to Phoenix, the Jazz recently hired Hall of Fame power forward Karl Malone on a part-time basis to help tutor the team's big men.
Could John Stockton be the next one to return to the fold?
"John is a great friend of the organization and is part of the Jazz family, and always will be," Jazz president Randy Rigby said in a phone interview with the Deseret News. With a chuckle, he added, "There have been no discussions ... yet."
Sloan told the Deseret News two weeks ago that he'd been contacted about returning to the Jazz, but he wasn't sure what the specific role would be.
"I'd hate to be in anybody's way," he said at the time, very aware of the precarious situation he'd be in by returning with his replacement, Tyrone Corbin, in his old position.
Corbin, who played and coached under Sloan in Utah, is happy to welcome his old boss back to the team.
“I am glad Jerry is going to continue to be involved with our organization,” Corbin, who hasn't spoken to the media since his team's locker cleanout on April 18, said in a statement. "We will benefit from his wealth of basketball experience. I am looking forward to his continued contributions."
Sloan has been out of a job since he abruptly and shockingly resigned in Feb. 2011 after multiple locker room run-ins and disagreements with All-Star point guard Deron Williams.
Since then, Sloan has been the subject of numerous coaching rumors. He even told 1280 The Zone on Wednesday that he regretted not pursuing an unspecified head-coaching opportunity.
In his new role with the Jazz — his first non-coaching job since the early 1980s — Sloan will work with the franchise's basketball operations and coaching staffs. As he's been doing, he'll continue to help evaluate players at workouts, camps and summer league along with doing some scouting and practice observation. He'll also occasionally travel with the team during the season.
On top of that, Sloan will also host an annual prep and college coaches clinic.
"We're really excited about having Jerry back in the organization. We view Jerry as a key part of the Jazz family," Rigby said. "He has a remarkable amount of knowledge and expertise in coaching in the NBA and in Jazz basketball, in our style and philosophy."
Rigby added that Sloan will counsel Corbin, general manager Dennis Lindsey and Kevin O'Connor, the executive vice president of player personnel.
Added Rigby: "To have Jerry Sloan available for Coach Corbin, for Dennis and Kevin ... to help (them) continue to make right decisions and to help build a championship caliber team is extremely valuable."
Rigby said "respectful conversations" with Sloan have been ongoing for quite some time. It was made clear that the organization's old coach didn't want to interfere with Corbin's staff.
"He is extremely respectful of the people we have in place," Rigby said. "I think he wanted to make sure he felt comfortable about what the role would be and we wanted to feel comfortable that the time was right for Jerry.
"We really feel like the time is right now, and we're excited about this."
The Jazz won seven division titles and racked up 13 seasons of 50-plus wins during Sloan's 23-year tenure as head coach from 1988 when he replaced Frank Layden until his resignation 26 months ago. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 with Jazz point guard great John Stockton.
The draft is a week away, but this has been a busy offseason for the Jazz. They've returned two familiar faces to the fold. They've seen Hornacek leave to take a head coaching gig with the Suns. Also earlier this week, the organization announced a $15 million renovation project for EnergySolutions Arena, highlighted by a new 42-foot-wide state-of-the-art video scoreboard.
In the upcoming weeks, they have three draft picks to make — Nos. 14, 21 and 46 — and need to fill a handful of vacant roster spots during the free-agency period, which begins on July 1.
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