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No timeline set to find Utah Jazz's new head coach

Published: Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:33 a.m. MDT

Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey speaks with media in the Energy Solutions Arena Monday, April 21, 2014 in Salt Lake City.

Hugh Carey, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — In the aftermath of the Utah Jazz’s decision to not renew Tyrone Corbin’s contract, two relevant questions are being asked by fans, media, the NBA community and even members of the organization.

1. Who will the franchise hire to be the fifth head coach since the Jazz moved to Utah from New Orleans in 1979?

2. When will that employment transaction take place?

(We’ll leave a third, and perhaps more popular, question of “Will the Jazz draft Jabari Parker?” for another story.)

Though general manager Dennis Lindsey used the word “timeline” on multiple occasions during Monday's press conference, it was usually to declare that the Jazz don’t have a definitive one for the new coach search.

The closest Lindsey came to predicting a hiring date was when he relayed what the front office told the Miller ownership group: “However long it takes to get the best man in the seat.”

However long it takes, the Jazz are clearly in unchartered territory.

The only three head-coaching changes in the 35 years the team has been located in Utah were immediately taken care of with an in-house hire.

On Dec. 10, 1981, Jazz GM Frank Layden fired and personally replaced Tom Nissalke. Seven years later, on Dec. 9, 1988, Layden called it quits, only to have that vacancy filled the same day by his lead assistant, Jerry Sloan.

Corbin, the eighth-longest-tenured NBA coach before Monday, followed suit by replacing Sloan on the same day the Hall of Fame coach resigned — and after the job was turned down by longtime top assistant Phil Johnson — back on Feb. 10, 2011.

In fact, the Jazz have only had two offseason head-coach searches in the franchise’s 40-year history — before the inaugural season when Scotty Robertson was hired on May 28, 1974 and leading up to the move from New Orleans to Salt Lake City when Nissalke was hired on June 18, 1979.

Lindsey’s only experience with an NBA coach search came in 2003 when he was the Houston Rockets’ vice president of basketball operations and player personnel, working with then-GM Carroll Dawson. That summer was the transition period between Rockets coaches Rudy Tomjanovich and Jeff Van Gundy.

Three-time NBA Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich was the Spurs’ bench boss during Lindsey’s time with San Antonio from 2007-12.

Despite the relative inexperience Utah has with coaching changes, Lindsey vowed that the organization would conduct this search “with the right professional decorum.” Per NBA rules, the Jazz will have to receive permission from other organizations to talk with potential candidates (although there are backdoor ways to gauge interest before that happens, of course).

“So it won’t be the Wild, Wild West with our search. We have Jazz and professional integrity that we want to stick to,” Lindsey said. “This is a little new to all of us, but we’ll do it the right way, you can be assured of that.”

If the Jazz take the same amount of time as other NBA teams have in recent coaching hires, that process will take about a month. Last offseason, a record 13 organizations picked up new head coaches, with an average of 28.4 days between the time one coach left for various reasons and when the successor was named.

Phoenix (Jeff Hornacek) and Atlanta (Mike Budenholzer) announced their new hires on the same day they announced they wouldn’t be renewing their previous coaches’ contracts.

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