The Utah Jazz search for a head coach has begun in earnest, according to several sources. ESPN reported on Tuesday, May 13 that the one and only John Stockton has been approached by Jazz brass as a potential replacement for Tyrone Corbin.
Just after Corbin was relieved of his duties, another interesting name with local ties came to the forefront. Former Utah Utes head coach Jim Boylen -- now a San Antonio Spurs assistant -- was named as a potential target for the Jazz head coaching job. Whether Boylen was a smokescreen is up for debate since things went so badly at the University of Utah -- but there is no question he’s a good NBA assistant.
After that, Ettore Messina, the current CSKA Moscow head coach and former Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach had his name mentioned around town as a potential Jazz head coach. And on Wednesday, May 14 yet another name splashed across local newspapers, as current Chicago Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin, a former Bulls player, was also mentioned as a replacement for Corbin.
If you’re counting at home, that’s four potential candidates right there -- not including Jeff Van Gundy, Doug Collins or the other former NBA head coaches now plying their trade in the broadcast booths at ESPN/ABC/TNT or some configuration therein.
What the Jazz head coaching search is in a nutshell is confusing -- and that four of the five afore- mentioned candidates have never, ever been a head coach in one single NBA basketball game makes it all the more maddening for Jazz fans. That said, it looks like Little John from Gonzaga -- and four others -- appear to be the early front runners for the job. Click on the photos to see how they all stack up.
Unlike all of the other candidates, John Stockton has one advantage that the others don’t. The Jazz are notorious for hiring their head coaches in-house. When Frank Layden quit, guess who replaced him? His assistant, Jerry Sloan. You know the rest of the story.
As for Stockton, the knock against him -- if there is one -- is that he has never coached one NBA, college, or even high school game in his life. Did that stop Mark Jackson or Isiah from taking jobs as head coaches? OK, maybe those were bad examples. But, it has been done before and Stockton does know the Jazz inside and out.
Messina is the attractive choice simply because he’s had resounding success in the European leagues -- and has had one season on the sidelines as an assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers. Like Jerry Sloan, Messina is a no-nonsense taskmaster -- and that worked very well in Utah -- but the Jazz do seem to hire their coaches in-house.
That is, until Lindsey came on the scene. And as you have seen, he is not squeamish when it comes to making personnel decisions. So Messina does make sense in that he would fall right into what Lindsey is doing to make the Jazz more like his old employer, the San Antonio Spurs, in terms of development.
Boylen appears to be Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey’s favorite candidate -- they go way back to when Boylen was an assistant coach in Houston and Lindsey was the assistant GM -- but you cannot deny the feelings that locals have for Boylen after his one and only head coaching job at the University of Utah ended in disaster.
Boylen is now an assistant with the Spurs -- and he would have two things going against him if the Jazz were to hire him as their next head coach. One is it isn’t an internal hire -- as the Jazz have been wont to do -- and second, he has a history here, and it isn't necessarily good.
The former Bulls player and current assistant coach has become a person of interest in the Jazz head coaching search over the past few days.
According to reporter Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Lindsey is seeking help on the defensive end and Griffin -- who was Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s top assistant -- was responsible for making Chicago a better defensive unit.
Although this name hasn’t really been thrown out there by the Jazz, allow this writer to do so. Hoiberg comes from the same alma mater as Jeff Hornacek -- whom the Jazz foolishly allowed to take a coaching jon in Phoenix. You all know what happened with that and what didn’t happen in Utah.
Now, the Jazz can bring on another Iowa State alum, one who has 10 years NBA playing experience, NBA front office experience to boot and a solid collegiate head coaching resume at ISU. If ever there was a hard working, Midwestern guy with traditional values, this is the one. And Hoiberg appears to be ready to take the next step.