Utah Jazz: Greg Miller opens up about job, family, Jazz, Ty Corbin and even Jerry Sloan
But news broke before that even began. Sloan's tank was on "E."
"Going into the meeting I was convinced that I was going to turn him around," Miller said. "He came in and he just said, 'I stand by what I said last night.' And we were done."
Jazz owner Gail Miller also pleaded with Sloan to reconsider resigning, but the coach's mind was made up. Assistant Phil Johnson, who'd been promised the job if Sloan ever left, resigned with his longtime coaching partner.
"We had to respect Jerry. He's a professional. He'd given us 23 great years and you can't hold somebody there against their will," said Miller, who admitted to being upset but not in a position to do anything but accept the decision. "As difficult as it was, we had to let him go. I had to say, 'OK. I respect you. Good luck.'"
Jazz brass was then put in the unexpected position of quickly replacing the man who had coached the organization to two NBA Finals and had won 1,127 games in Utah dating back to 1988.
Miller went into what he called "mental survival mode," but he knew that the Jazz needed "franchise continuity" with Sloan's successor. Miller said the "best candidate" was clear to the organization's top executives: Corbin, who had been Sloan's assistant for seven years and previously played for Utah.
Twenty-eight months later, Miller and Sloan are happy to have been reunited, albeit under different circumstances than in 2011.
"My observation is that he is very glad to be back with us in that official capacity," Miller said. "There were a lot of smiles."
Miller also addressed the trade that took place less than two weeks later when Williams was shipped off to New Jersey in exchange for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, two first-round picks and $3 million.
"They were very separate," Miller said. "We just wanted to control our destiny."
In fact, Miller said he had the same reaction as media and fans when then-general manager Kevin O'Connor told him about the blockbuster deal the morning it went down. His response: "You want to what!?"
And about that rumor that Gail Miller was so upset at Williams for his role in Sloan's resignation that she forced the trade?
Greg Miller laughed and denied that.
"My mom loves everyone," he said.
The Jazz maintain that they weren't sure whether Williams would stick around the organization in 2012 when his contract was up, so they were proactive about ensuring that they weren't left high and dry if he did choose to go to a bigger market. Miller said the Jazz are where they thought they'd be at this point after getting rid of a franchise cornerstone.
"It made sense for the long-term well-being of the franchise," Miller said. "So we made the tough decision."
That's one thing Miller has shown he's been willing to do at the helm of the LHM Group of Companies, even more than his successful father.
In his first year as CEO of the large organization, the younger Miller cut $29 million in expenses, including making the decision to close his father's beloved Mayan restaurant (saved $3.1 million) as well as selling a Subaru dealership and laying off several long-tenured employees with big salaries.
Miller doesn't like to think about what might have happened had cost-saving measures not been taken, even admitting, "We may not have survived."
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