The Utah Jazz’s head coach Jerry Sloan is expected to announce his resignation this afternoon at a press conference, according to sources. This comes as big surprise to many since he just signed an extension but the old coach has probably figured out that his days of coaching are over.
He and top assistant coach Phil Johnson are expected to concede their positions with the team and assistant Tyrone Corbin, who played for Sloan from 1991-94, is set to take over for the remainder of the season.
Sloan, 68, is in his 23rd year coaching the Jazz. He has taken them to the playoffs 19 times and even coached in the Finals twice. John Stockton and Karl Malone are just two great players that he drew up plays for as he made basketball relevant in Utah. His tenure with the Jazz is the longest for any head coach in the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL. However, the man is still ringless.
In addition, it has been a very turbulent season for the Jazz. January alone was a month that would drive any coach to the brink of madness. They went 7-16 with a six-game losing streak in the middle of the month. They lost to Memphis, Washington, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Golden State. It took overtime for them to beat the pathetic Rockets.
However, on Monday Sloan agreed to an extension with the team for a 24th season of coaching but their 91-86 loss to the Chicago Bulls in Utah on Wednesday caused tensions to flare. One source even reported that he gave up at halftime and decided that he was done.
Apparently, he felt as though ownership would rather listen to the team’s rising star than him.
Deron Williams hasn’t commented yet on the situation yet but it has been reported that Sloan was sick of the young point guard blaming the teams woes on everyone else. Regardless, the Jazz entered this season without some of its usual stars.
In fact, it’s former Jazz stars were the reason Chicago won. Kyle Korver played for the Jazz from 2008 to last season and sunk a late three to put the Bulls up 87-83. Ronnie Brewer was drafted by the Jazz and had a crucial steal with seven seconds left in the game. Carlos Boozer was the face of the Jazz’s frontcourt for five years and had a big night as well.
The Jazz did take steps to replace their lost stars but nothing has quite worked. Al Jefferson was brought in to put some muscle up front but the Jazz are 28th in the league in rebounding. Raja Bell is garbage now and drafting Gordon Hayward was a pretty stupid decision.
As of now, the Jazz are sixth in the West and are poised for another run for the playoffs. However, outside of a November 26th win over the Lakers, they really haven’t beaten many teams that are in true contention this season. San Antonio and Dallas have beaten them twice.
Injuries have plagued them as well. Jefferson is the only player to have appeared in all 54 games. Mehmet Okur was their third leading scorer last season and has only played in 13 games this season due to injuries to his Achilles and back. Williams has only missed four games but is playing with an injured hand. His scoring is up but assists are down.
All of this translates to increased tension on a team that is struggling to maintain its position in the conference. Denver is only half a game behind the Jazz and Portland is lurking as well. If Houston were playing at the same level they were two seasons ago and Phoenix was doing what they did last season, we would be looking at a Utah team that would probably be out of the playoff picture entirely.
Jerry Sloan can be credited with a lot but this season has been a headache. At his age, it seems as though he has determined that it simply isn’t worth it anymore and that it’s time to move on.