Jazz president-general manager David Checketts is promising more player moves than ever in the offseason that started late Saturday afternoon.
Coach Frank Layden's future, meanwhile, is apparently up to Frank Layden.After the Jazz's 109-98 loss to the Lakers, Layden said of Checketts and owner Larry Miller, "I'm sure they have some plans in mind for me."
That hints of Layden moving fulltime into the front office, but at the moment he has five years left on a coaching-only contract and Checketts and Miller say they expect him to keep coaching.
"He got disillusioned for a while," Checketts said this week, "but the playoffs have made him say to himself, `I've got the making of a pretty good club here.' I think he wants to coach."
Said Miller, "He's said things along the way that make me wonder if he'll finish out the full five years, but I've got to believe the playoff success will whet his appettite and he'll come back for another shot or two."
For Layden to leave coaching and stay with the Jazz, his contract would have to be changed. While he formerly had an option to become strictly a general manager at any time, no such provision was included when his deal was renegotiated in 1986. He officially signed the contract in April 1987, so last summer marked the first time that Layden said immediately he was coming back as coach.
This year, he says, "I'm going to evaluate my position."
Player moves? Two categories, says Checketts: "What we do with the guys we want to keep, and what we do with the guys we want to get rid of."
Speaking of Kelly Tripucka, his traditional postseason statement was mild. "I'm not burning any bridges," he said. "I'm just disappointed in the way things worked out. I'm disappointed people didn't get to see the real me . . . Somebody's going to get a good player - that's the bottom line."
Tripucka's trade wishes were not accommodated after last season, but this summer should be different. "I wish I would have pulled the trigger when we had even the slightest offer for Kelly. That was a mistake," said Checketts.
In a two-month stretch that started with The Jazz's chief needs are fairly clear: A backup point guard and a better backup center - who may be Mel Turpin.
When the Laker series ended, Karl Malone said, "We were probably one or one-and-a-half players away from doing a lot of damage."
Said Miller, "We need another two or three guys, for sure. We have to have some guys Frank has confidence in on the bench."
The Jazz can protect eight of their 13 players for the expansion draft, and will lose one. They don't have to protect forward Jose Ortiz, their 1987 first-round draft choice who played this season in Spain. Checketts plans to visit Ortiz and his agent in Puerto Rico next month to open contract talks, hoping Ortiz will join the team following the Summer Olympics.
Contract situations? A look at where the key players stand: Five years left - Karl Malone; four years - Thurl Bailey, Darrell Griffith; three years - John Stockton; two years - Bobby Hansen.
Management is undecided about any reworking of those deals, but is concerned about their ever become free agents under future collective bargaining terms. So Checketts does not rule out extensions to the current deals.
The Jazz will pick up the option year on Marc Iavaroni's contracts, while rookie Bart Kofoed is an official veteran free agent and Scott Roth and Eddie Hughes had contracts only for what was left of the season when they were signed.
Provisions in Turpin's complex contract will likely result in a full renegotiation. And although Layden ripped Turpin last week, Checketts says Turpin is a worthwhile reclamation project, making plans for weight-control counseling.
"We're going to give it one more shot," said Checketts. "He and Eaton could be a terrific combination."
Said Turpin's agent, William Strickland, "I'm hopeful they will make an effort to keep him there. I think he's still better than some of these kids coming out."
But Turpin's million-dollar days seem over. The Jazz have mentioned backup-center figures to him. "That's a big drop," says Turpin. "I think I'm a good player if they give me the minutes . . . I'm looking for a longer term with the Jazz. If I have to put up with the (bleep) from Frank, I'll put up with it."