Salt City Hoops » Jerry Sloan http://saltcityhoops.com The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:09:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops » Jerry Sloan http://saltcityhoops.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://saltcityhoops.com What if: Rony Seikaly had come to the Utah Jazz in 1998? http://saltcityhoops.com/what-if-rony-seikaly-had-come-to-the-utah-jazz-in-1998/ http://saltcityhoops.com/what-if-rony-seikaly-had-come-to-the-utah-jazz-in-1998/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 17:42:56 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12719 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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AP Photo/John Bazemore

AP Photo/John Bazemore

Off the heels of an impressive 1996-97 season, which saw the team go 64-18 en route to its first-ever NBA Finals appearance, the Utah Jazz came back the following year more determined to not only get back to the big stage, but to win the whole thing. All the key free agents were brought back and while there were bumps along the way, the 1997-98 Jazz were a team on a mission. John Stockton suffered the first major injury of his career and a few players started the season slowly, but by midseason, things were falling into place.

While the team was playing extremely well, the front office approached the February 1998 trade deadline with an active desire to improve the roster in preparation for what was hopefully to be another historic postseason run. With this in mind, the Utah Jazz made a trade to bring in center Rony Seikaly from the Orlando Magic.

But he never came to Utah. And the Jazz moved on.

This could be one of the biggest “what ifs” in franchise history. Most are aware of the circumstances: On February 17th, Utah and Orlando consummated a deal that would send to the Magic center Greg Foster, swingman Chris Morris and the Jazz’s 1998 first-round draft pick to the Magic in exchange for Seikaly.

In fact, Foster and Morris were warming up before the start of a game that evening when they were told of the move. Morris seemed quite pleased about the opportunity, as he had established residency in Jerry Sloan’s doghouse. Foster, on the other hand, was visibly shaken. After a very nomadic career, he had become a very viable contributor and had established roots in the community.

For Seikaly, it seemed like a no-brainer. At least on paper. The talented, offensive-minded big man would have the chance to play alongside two Hall of Famers in Karl Malone and John Stockton. And for the first time, he would be part of a contender.

It never happened. Seikaly never reported to Salt Lake City. Some suggested that he was leery of coming to Utah, especially after playing mostly for teams in warm climates (Miami and Orlando). Other reports insinuated that Seikaly wanted his last two seasons guaranteed–something some said Utah was willing to do. If you ask Seikaly, it was the Jazz who nixed the trade, with concerns about his foot injury. It was a matter of he said, they said. Based on some of the comments coming from Magic officials. and players, though, it might have been Seikaly’s call.

Whatever the truth is–and the fans may never know what truly occurred–the pairing of Seikaly and the Jazz did not materialize. Despite reporting to Orlando and participating in a practice, Foster and Morris were brought back to Utah in a very awkward position. Utah’s front office, coaches and the fans did their best to welcome the pair back, but it must have been surreal for them.

What would Seikaly have brought to the team?

Up to that point in the season, Seikaly was averaging 15.0 PPG and 7.6 RPG. While his shooting was a career-low 44.1 percent, he would’ve added a much-needed offensive threat who could shoulder some of the scoring burdens placed on the NBA’s MVP, Karl Malone. Seikaly was a talented player who had a bevy of moves around the basket in his repertoire. For much of his career, he was his team’s focal point on offense, doing so mostly through iso plays. That would not have been in the case in Utah. He would’ve benefitted greatly from Sloan’s dynamic offense that worked efficiently and always made the extra pass (evidenced by the league-leading 49 percent shooting, along with 25.2 assists per outing). Malone had developed into one of the NBA’s best passing bigs and he would’ve done a fine job at setting up Seikaly for easy looks. And Stockton, Jeff Hornacek and Howard Eisley were not too shabby, either.

While his advanced stats were not gleaming, Seikaly was posting a 15.8 PER and 2.8 WS. Those would’ve easily placed him ahead of the troika of Foster (8.9 PER, 1.3 WS), Greg Ostertag (12.5, 2.2) and Antoine Carr (9.8, 1.5). Seikaly essentially would have assumed Foster’s starting role and his 18.5 MPG, along with some of Carr’s playing time. That would’ve obviously brought productivity and potential to the table.

Even though his TRB%, 14.1, was quite a bit below his career average, Seikaly was much better off the glass than Foster (11.7) or Carr (7.5).

He would’ve also smoothed out the rotations. A Seikaly/Ostertag tandem would provide a nice offensive-defensive contrast and could even play a bit together when the Mailman needed a spell. It would also allow Carr to be used more prudently, playing to his strengths as instant offense off the bench. The team would’ve had 30 games to acclimate him in and get everyone used to their refined roles.

Would Seikaly have made a difference in the Playoffs and the Finals? Foster, Ostertag and Carr averaged a combined 11.9 PPG and 10.0 RPG in 49.1 MPG in the postseason. In the Finals? They tallied a total of 44 points and 42 rebounds in 204 minutes. Seikaly would’ve most likely fared much better. At a minimum, he would’ve been someone the Chicago defense would have had to address.

Injuries decimated (and the ensuing controversy behind his not going to Utah) Seikaly’s career. Who knows if he would’ve done better in Utah on that front. Some vets seem to thrive when playing a complementary role for a team that’s winning. At just 32, Seikaly might’ve been a contributor for a few more years.

So, there you have it–one of the more painful “what ifs” in Jazz history.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Coaching Profile: Brad Jones http://saltcityhoops.com/coaching-profile-brad-jones/ http://saltcityhoops.com/coaching-profile-brad-jones/#comments Wed, 30 Apr 2014 17:45:15 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=11218 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Chris Covatta/NBAE/Getty Images

Chris Covatta/NBAE/Getty Images

Last week, Utah Jazz president Randy Rigby suggested that the franchise could possibly interview over 20 potential candidates for the vacant head coach position. By all accounts, the Jazz will be thorough and comprehensive in their search. The great Jody Genessy shared some of Rigby’s insights last week. It sounds like the process will entail former players (including “iconic” ones–John Stockton, anyone?), previous NBA head and assistant coaches and those who have toiled in college and overseas.

Utah does not have look far for a candidate who has had some of these varied experiences. As is the case with Alex Jensen, Brad Jones is  another familiar face who will most likely be considered.

Jones is a basketball lifer, much like his uncle: Jerry Sloan. He played for Lambuth University, where he was the team captain his senior campaign. After earning his master’s degree in health and public education, he returned to his alma mater to serve as head coach from 1995-2001. His teams were successful, winning a pair of conference championships. Jones twice earned the honors of Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year.

After leaving Lambuth, he started his tenure with the Utah Jazz, functioning as a regional scout from 2001-2007, after which he was tabbed to be the head coach for the short-lived Utah Flash in Orem, Utah. The D-League expansion team enjoyed success during his time; Jones posted an 84-66 record. The Flash made two trips to the postseason, including the 2009 Developmental League Finals. His teams were entertaining and energetic.

During his time in Orem, he was able to coach eight different players who were called up to the NBA 13 times. 12 different NBA players were assigned to have stints with Jones and the Flash, including Utah Jazz players Kyrylo Fesenko and Morris Almond.

Jones then joined Dennis Lindsey and company in the San Antonio Spurs system, coaching their D-League entry, the Austin Toros. As is the case with anything Spurs-related, the Toros were first-class, winning the championship under Jones’ helm in 2012.

After spending 2012-13 with the Jazz as a player development coach, he spent last season as an assistant coach for Tyrone Corbin, assuming the spot left open when Jeff Hornacek was giving the opportunity with the Phoenix Suns.

On a side note, his wife, Lori, is also an athlete and coach. Like her husband, she was inducted into the Lambuth Hall of Fame and currently is the head women’s basketball coach at Southeastern Louisiana University.

Jones seems to be liked by Utah’s players. His teams have been prepared and tough. And once again, he is a known commodity. While he has ties to Corbin and Sloan, Jones would undoubtedly add his own style and structure to the team, should he be named as the next coach of the Utah Jazz.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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52 John Stockton Memories http://saltcityhoops.com/52-john-stockton-memories/ http://saltcityhoops.com/52-john-stockton-memories/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 22:03:42 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=10846 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Glenn James/NBAE/Getty Images

Glenn James/NBAE/Getty Images

In the midst of a rough Utah Jazz season, sometimes it’s good to take a minute to reflect on some better times. In that same spirit, today is the one and only John Stockton’s 52nd birthday. Without further ado, here are 52 memories of and thoughts about #12:

1- One has to start with the absolutely magical relationship Stockton had with Karl Malone. Do Utah Jazz fans realize how lucky they were to have two Hall of Famers giving their all, night in and night out, for nearly two decades? The debates of who was more important or who benefited more from the other are moot. The symbiotic nature of this tandem’s on and off-court unity may never be replicated. They also shared a love for milk, even before they became the dynamic duo.

2- Few were better at the pull-up 3-pointer, quite often when managing a two-for-one situation at the end of a quarter.

3- The absolute respect Jerry Sloan and John Stockton had for each other. Stockton was an extension of Sloan on the court, with the latter calling most of the plays. John never quibbled–he did what was asked and excelled. The mutual love they had for each other was evident on the night the franchise honored him after his retirement, when Sloan teared up, saying “We thought you’d play forever, John.”

4- Stockton’s professionalism. For 19 seasons, he came to work. By all accounts, he reveled in practices just as much as the games. His preparation was unparalleled.

5- At every opportunity, Stockton was quick to acknowledge his teammates contributions, often deflecting attention toward his own accomplishments. On the night he broke Magic Johnson’s all-time assist mark, he said “The guys were making some incredible shots–ones I won’t soon forget.” The epitome of an unselfish leader.

6- Stockton did not exhibit much flashiness. That’s not to say that he never dribbled between his legs or made the occasional behind the back dish–he did. But he was effective and efficient–even when playing in 10 All-Star games.

7- 15,806 assists, seven times surpassing the 1,000 dime mark (with one season with 987). Imagine what that total would have been had he started more frequently his first three seasons. Even as is, it will always be one of sports most unbreakable records.

8- The absolute durability. In 17 of his 19 seasons, Stockton played every game. When he had that injury in 1997, he worked tirelessly to get back, missing on 18 games when others would’ve been sidelined much longer.

9- In the 1987-88 season, Stockton shot 57.4 percent from the floor. He was better than 50 percent for 12 seasons, and never shot worse than his rookie year’s 47.1 percent mark. But, according to Mark Jackson, he was a “good to very good shooter…not to be considered a great shooter.” Okay.

10- Of course, the short shorts. The ladies on Friends loved them.

11- John had a great sense of humor.

12- Stockton donned Nike’s Air Maestro’s in the 1990s. Like many out there, that instantly became my shoe of choice. Here’s John’s Foot Locker ad for said sneaker.

13- Perhaps everyone’s favorite Stockton moment was naturally “the Shot.” What was even more amazing was the complete way he took over the last few minutes of that game. He either scored or assisted on every basket down the stretch.  It was as clutch a performance as there has been.

14- Also from that fateful game in Houston was the image indelibly etched in Jazz fans’ hearts forever–Stockton, Malone and Jeff Hornacek embracing for a brief moment before being surrounded by their teammates.

15- Stockton’s amazing acting abilities, as evidenced here. His singing prowess was also something to hear…

16- 28 assists against the San Antonio Spurs. Oh, and he added 20 points and eight steals that evening.

17- Shocking the whole world, John Stockton penned his autobiography, Assisted. Even the most devout Jazz fans can glean so much by reading this book. It was also enjoyable to see Stockton go about the media circuit, granting more interviews in a few weeks’ time than he seemingly did during several seasons.

18- Not being recognized by anyone in Barcelona, as part of the 1992 Dream Team. Not one of my favorite memories: Stockton going down with a broken leg, thus preventing him from playing much with the greatest team in basketball history.

19- For the analytics junkies, Stockton led the NBA three times in True Shooting Percentage, including a .651 mark in 1994-95. He paced the league in eFG% at .596 the following season.

20- Larry H. Miller loved Stockton–that was very evident. When asked what John was like, Miller’s reply was “He’s everything you think he is.”

21- He was tops in the league in Assist Percentage 15 seasons–including his final year at age 40.

22- A few more advanced stats: 207.7 Win Shares; 121 Offensive Rating and 104 Defensive Rating…for his entire career.

23- Stockton was fiercely loyal to the Utah Jazz. The stories of his contact talks, where Miller and Stockton would each write on a paper what they each thought was a fair number. And that was it. No agents. No posturing. Just two men in a room who respected each other.

24- Stockton’s Hall of Fame speech. To go into the Hall the same time as Jerry Sloan was priceless.

25- 3,265 steals by the NBA’s most prolific thief. He lead the league twice and tallied over 100 each season, minus the lockout year and the season of his injury.

26- Naturally, we have to mention the screens he set. It did not matter if you were Shaquille O’Neal or Hakeem Olajuwon, Stockton was not afraid to go inside. It earned him the “dirty” label, but it seemed like it was just good, tough basketball.

27- Gary Payton saying Stockton was harder to guard than Michael Jordan. Repeatedly, much to many media members’ and fans’ chagrin.

28- The pick & roll. To perfection.

29- Stockton leading the Jazz to victory over the Chicago Bulls despite being down 107-100 with 40 seconds left. One of my favorite Hot Rod Hundley calls of all-time.

30- Back in the late 1980s, Wilt Chamberlain said that if he was starting a team from scratch, Stockton would be the first player he’d choose.

31- The Dean John Wooden saying Stockton was the only guy he’d pay money to watch. “He’s just my favorite player to watch in the pros.”

32- Doling out 24 assists against the Lakers in the 1988 Playoffs to tie Magic’s single-game postseason record.

33- Stockton remained a family man, one who was devoted to his wife and kids.

34- Together with Hornacek, Stockton helped form a truly remarkable back court. These were two guys who could shoot, pass and defend with the best of them, even though they joined forces toward the end of their careers.

35- “The Pass” against the Bulls in the Finals.

36-  Stockton was one of the few players who placed his heart on his chest and sang the national anthem prior to games. .

37- Sharing the 1993 All-Star Game MVP honors with the “Mailman.” Stock finished with nine points, 15 assists and six rebounds, but it was his clutch play down the stretch that helped him earn part of that trophy. That was a great respite in an otherwise difficult season.

38- Making the All-Defensive team five times. Toward the end of his career, Stockton did struggle against speedy counterparts, but in his heyday, he was a tough defender. Mark Eaton and Greg Ostertag did allow him to roam a bit and play the passing lanes, but Stockton was gritty when going one-on-one.

39- Being selected 11 times to the All-NBA team.

40- Being a torch bearer during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

41- At the press conference two months ago, seeing Jerry Sloan in the middle, with Stockton on one side and Malone on the other took Jazz fans back to glory days.

42- Seeing the Stockton statue be unveiled outside of the arena. Likewise, driving through the intersection of John Stockton Drive and Karl Malone Drive just next to EnergySolutions Arena.

43- Stockton being one of the 1996 Olympic team captains.

44- Making the Playoffs each of his 19 seasons.

45- The absolutely classy gesture by the Sacramento Kings fans in giving Stockton and Malone a standing ovation in what would be their final game together. Watching the scene brings chills.

46- Stockton’s retirement ceremony. It was a great opportunity for Jazz fans to deservedly shower #12 with love.

47- Hearing Hot Rod call every  Stockton “leapin’ leaner,”yo-yo,” “belt-high dribble,” and “hippity-hop.” There’s also “With a gentle push, and a mild arc, the old cowhide globe hits home” and, of course, “Stockton-to-Malone.” There was only one Hot Rod. “You gotta love it baby!”

48- Seeing him a few times each season at Jazz games.

49- I grew up not caring much for sports. Then in 1987, my father took me to a Jazz game in the old Salt Palace. There was this speedy, short guard making some incredible passes. I was hooked to basketball, becoming a lifelong Jazz fan thanks to John Stockton.

50- Stockton could have undoubtedly be a 20-22 PPG scorer in the NBA. He was that great of a shooter. Many people’s biggest gripe was his passing up shots at times. Still, his selflessness was incredible to watch.

51-  His taking the time to tutor first Deron Williams and then Trey Burke and Alec Burks this past offseason.

52- John Stockton is truly the greatest point guard to ever play the game.

Thank you for indulging me. Feel free to share some of your favorite John Stockton memories and thoughts below. And Happy Birthday John!

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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The Utah Jazz and Deadline Deals: 2004-2014 http://saltcityhoops.com/the-utah-jazz-and-deadline-deals-2004-2014/ http://saltcityhoops.com/the-utah-jazz-and-deadline-deals-2004-2014/#comments Wed, 12 Feb 2014 22:33:06 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=10329 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Bill Kostroun/AP

Bill Kostroun/AP

Thursday, February 20th is a date NBA fans have clearly marked on their calendars: the NBA trade deadline. As is the case this time each year, the basketball world circles with rumors of teams discussing their players, their picks or assets and the financial situations. Teams wanting to make the Playoffs may consider deals that help them short-term. Others who know the postseason is no longer a possibility may opt to adopt a long-term approach. It’s an exciting time of the year and one that can affect a team going forward. (side note: deadline day is a perfect reason why Twitter was created. Constant refresh that entire day. Sheer genius.)

Last year, due to the amazing number of expiring contracts, the Utah Jazz were among the most mentioned teams in floating rumors. Then, the deadline came and went without a single move, which was disappointing to some fans and understandable to others. Whether or not the franchise will be involved in any trades this go-around, the deadline is bound to be another fun roller coaster of intrigue.

The Jazz are typically not regulars when it comes to brokering deadline deals, with only four such moves in the last 10 years. When they have, they have been moves that affected the franchise both on and off the court. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, as we review the deadline deals from the past decade:

February 19, 2004: Utah Jazz trade forwards Keon Clark and Ben Handlogten to the Phoenix Suns for forward Tom Gugliotta, two first-round picks, a 2005 second-round pick and cash.

This trade came in that illustrious post-Stockton and Malone season where Jerry Sloan orchestrated a marvelous season from a team some predicted to be the worst team in NBA history. It was a roster full of overachievers, including the hard-working Handlogten (Clark was a disappointment and his life has become tragic). The Jazz also possessed a lot of financial flexibility and they used it in a deal to acquire some long-term assets. Gugliotta was at the end of a nice career and was making $11.7 million–money the Suns wanted to shed. The Jazz absorbed his deal and picked up some picks along the way. His modest contributions on the court were icing on the cake.

The Jazz used one of the picks for Kirk Snyder–an unmitigated disaster. But five years later, the other pick–acquired by Phoenix through the ineptitude of the New York Knicks–eventually became today’s leading scorer, Gordon Hayward. Hayward’s future is very bright and he could be a cornerstone for many years to come. All in all, a very good trade (something the Jazz hope they replicated with last summer’s move with the Golden State Warriors).

February 19, 2004: Utah Jazz trade guard DeShawn Stevenson and a second-round pick to the Orlando Magic for guard Gordan Giricek 

Stevenson had an up-and-down tenure with the Jazz. Drafted straight out of high school, he encountered some off-court troubles that marred his early career. The athletic guard played a reserve role his first three seasons and was eventually given the chance to start. Stevenson was solid, but was definitely not spectacular: 11.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG and 2.0 APG as a starter (He did have this redeeming interaction with Ricky Davis). His perimeter shooting was poor, which caused spacing issues (coincidentally, as his career waned, his outside shooting was his main staple). Thus the move for Giricek, which was consummated on the same day as the Gugliotta transaction.

Giricek is best known for his rough relationship with Sloan. He seemed to have frequent stays in Jerry’s doghouse. But for four seasons, he was a decent perimeter threat. His first season, he was quite good (13.5 PPG and 36% 3s)–enough for Larry H. Miller to re-sign him to a four-year, $16 million deal. He never reached those marks again, but had moments. Eventually he was traded in a December deal for sharpshooter and fan favorite Kyle Korver.

February 18, 2010: Utah Jazz trade guard Ronnie Brewer to the Memphis Grizzlies for a 2011 first-round draft pick.

This was a move that disappointed a lot of Jazz fans, as well as a franchise point guard in Deron Williams. Brewer had become a fan favorite thanks to his tireless energy, his defensive effort and his athletic dunks. Few players in Jazz history have functioned better without the ball. While his shooting was a weakness, Brewer shot a high percentage and looked to be a mainstay in the back court. Well, the Jazz were in the midst of some financial bedlam, thanks to several large contracts ($59 million combined for Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, Deron Williams and Paul Millsap). With C.J. Miles showing some modest improvement and undrafted free agent Wesley Matthews becoming a revelation for Utah, Brewer was shipped out for a draft pick which was used that offseason to bring in Al Jefferson.

Brewer was reportedly on the team plane to fly out for a road trip when word came out. He bid his farewells to his coaches and teammates and went to Memphis. He unfortunately was hurt his first game with the Grizzlies and never played for them after that.

February 23, 2011: Utah Jazz trade guard Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets for big man Derrick Favors, guard Devin Harris and two first-round draft picks. 

This whole experience still stings for some of the Utah Jazz populace. Much has been said about it and it will always be a major date in franchise history. A few weeks earlier was the infamous Jazz/Bulls game that ended up being Sloan’s final at the helm. The discord between Sloan and Williams was evident and whatever transpired that fateful evening proved to be the final straw for the venerable coach. Tyrone Corbin was installed and Utah tried to get back into a groove, but things were still not right.

Then came the shocking news that D-Will had been shipped across the country to the Nets, in exchange for a package of promising players and valuable draft picks. The Nets had been in talks with the Denver Nuggets for the then-pouting star Carmelo Anthony. After their offer was usurped by the New York Knicks, the Jazz and Nets moved quickly to make this happen. Williams had been the heart and soul for Utah. His talent was remarkable, while his attitude was sometimes sour.

Who won the trade? It’s hard to make any firm declarations yet, but indicators may favor the Jazz. Williams has battled constant injuries throughout his time in a Nets uniform. While it appears Brooklyn will be playoff bound after a slow, slow start, Williams still does not look right (with a max contract in tow, too).

Utah went on to pick up two #3 picks in Favors and Enes Kanter (Jazz moved up in the draft lottery that May) and their potential is evident. Favors looks to be the defensive anchor going forward, while the Jazz are still seeing what they have in Kanter. Harris was serviceable before being traded for Marvin Williams, who is having a nice season for Utah. The final draft pick was part of the package that enabled Dennis Lindsey to move up for Trey Burke. When it is all said and done, the Jazz sent Deron Williams for Favors, Kanter, Williams and part of Burke. Not a bad haul.

With the Jazz add a fifth trade to this list next week? This is the first deadline with Dennis Lindsey fully in charge, so who knows what will transpire. If Draft night was an precursor, he may be very active next week.

Only time will tell.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Looking Forward to the Utah Jazz’s 2014 http://saltcityhoops.com/looking-forward-to-the-utah-jazzs-2014/ http://saltcityhoops.com/looking-forward-to-the-utah-jazzs-2014/#comments Thu, 02 Jan 2014 18:52:15 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=9372 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Happy New Years to one and all. 2014 is upon us and like all dutiful Jazz fans, I have pondered what could transpire this year for the team. It could be one of the biggest years in franchise history, with many things to look forward to. Here’s a little primer of things on my radar and most likely yours.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

Player development is naturally the major focus of the 2013-2014 Utah Jazz campaign. So far, the results have been mostly positive. Derrick Favors continues to be solid defensively, but has been much better offensively. He is finishing inside and is being more decisive, aggressive and confident in his moves. Alec Burks has been a bright spot for the Jazz. Almost everything about his game has improved. From his decision-making to his outside shot, Burks looks like he’s taken the biggest leap of all of Utah’s returning players. Gordon Hayward’s shooting is still south of 40%, which is a major concern. The rest of his game, particularly his play-making and rebounding, has been great. Jeremy Evans has shown his abilities to contribute in a more regular role.

Enes Kanter has been the biggest concern. Some facets of his game have either stalled or digressed. There are many potential reasons: his move to a much more prominent role; the move to the bench; the fact that he spent most of the off-season recovering from his shoulder injury. His TS% has dropped from 58.8 percent last season to 49.5 percent this year and his eFG% is down from 54.5 percent to 46.2. His declining rebounding has been very noticeable. Kanter’s TRB% has gone from a stellar 18.3 mark his rookie year to 16.5 to 13.1 this year. The big Turk is only averaging 8.3 rebounds/36 minutes. While this is all disconcerting, there is still a lot of season to play and he’s shown some nice signs recently. I, for one, am a big Kanter believer and think he will be just fine. His offensive moves are great for a young big and he has displayed some nice perimeter marksmanship.

JANUARY 10TH

This is the day that contracts become guaranteed for the rest of the season. The Jazz have three players–Mike Harris, Diante Garrett and Ian Clark–who are probably working hard, while keeping their eyes on that date. Clark has a $200,000 guarantee, but is not fully guaranteed. It will be interesting to see what Utah does with this trio. There is a possibility they could retain all three, but it also could depend on who else is already available or who might been cut loose by other teams. The Jazz may want to have some flexibility with roster spots for future moves. And last season, Lindsey used a vacant roster spot to “try out” players like Travis Leslie and Jerel McNeal.

JERRY SLOAN CEREMONY

January 31st is circled on many Jazz fans’ calendars. It will be a terrific opportunity to pay homage to one of the all-time greats, Jerry Sloan. There will be press conferences, takes from national talking heads and the whole gamut. It will be interesting to hear Sloan’s words that day, as well as to see his emotions. Likewise, many Utah legends will naturally be in town for the festivities. It will be a day to remember.

TRADE DEADLINE

Dennis Lindsey has already shown that he is proactive and willing to orchestrate bold moves: one need not look further than Draft Night and the trade that brought Trey Burke to town. The Jazz possess a number of assets. The Jazz will naturally field phone calls for all the aforementioned young guys. They have $33 million in expiring contracts in veterans Richard Jefferson ($11M), Andris Biedrins ($9M), Marvin Williams ($7.5M), Brandon Rush ($4M) and John Lucas III ($1.6M, with a team option for 2014-15). Yes, last year the Jazz had a ton of expiring deals and did not make any moves, but I get the feeling that Lindsey won’t be scared from using these assets if something makes sense both for the team and the players involved. They also have that bevy of draft picks including their own picks, Golden State’s first round picks in 2014 and 2017, as well as extra second-rounders in 2016, 2017 and 2018. It will be a busy six weeks for Lindsey, Kevin O’Connor and company.

Around the NBA, this could be active trade deadline. Guys like Rudy Gay, Grevis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson and Derrick Williams have already been moved. Many prominent names have been circulating in rumors (granted, though, they are just rumors): Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Rajon Rondo, Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, Omer Asik, Spencer Hawes, Arron Afflalo, Paul Pierce, Ben Gordon, Michael Kidd-Gilcrest, Luol Deng, Kenneth Faried, Greg Monroe, Danny Granger, Jameer Nelson, Emeka Okafor, Jimmer Fredette, Demar Derozan, Kyle Lowry, Iman Shumpert, and so forth.

HONORS

The Jazz will most likely have little representation during All-Star Weekend. Trey Burke will be a lock for the Rising Stars Challenge and while he’s there, could be asked to participate in the Skills Challenge. Jeremy Evans could be asked to compete once again in the Slam Dunk Contest. That might be it.

The big question will be Burke’s potential to come away with the Rookie of the Year award.

JAZZ’S RECORD AND THE NBA DRAFT

Much has been said about the conflicted emotions of Jazz fans, thanks to the desire to see the team win as well as the upcoming Draft. Currently Utah would be in line for picks #2 and #22 in the 2014 Draft, but a lot will shift between now and then. Fueled by Burke’s great play, the Jazz have been seeing lots of solid wins–much to the chagrin of fans riding the Andrew Wiggins/Jabari Parker/Joel Embiid train.This will perhaps be the biggest story of 2014. My advice: enjoy the season, root for our team and whatever happens will happen. Whatever the case may be, the Jazz will come away with two great players in the Draft and if there is a guy that Lindsey has his eyes on, the team has assets to maneuver as needed. The Jazz could very come away with a player who could help shape the future of the franchise and help swing things in a major upward direction.

FREE AGENCY

The first item of business for the Jazz’s free agency efforts will center around Gordon Hayward. While Favors and the Jazz came to an extension. Hayward’s camp and Utah could not do so in October. Both have publicly stated their desires for an agreement come July and that will most likely happen– it’s the price tag that will need to be determined. Marvin Williams will be another to watch. If he does not get moved, which could very well be the case, Utah could look to keep him going forward. Next, there will be the potential for extensions for Burks and Kanter. The Jazz could lock them in, but there will not be pressure to do so with the extra year to watch and evaluate.

The Jazz will have ample cap space and could be players in free agency, but that will be tied to what happens between now and July 1st.

One other major free agent is head coach Tyrone Corbin. His contract expires at the end of the season, so all eyes will be focused on what happens on this front.

2013-2014 SEASON

No need to explain. Every Jazz season is exciting. The team could be dramatically different between now and then, but the future is very bright.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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A Breakdown of Jerry Sloan’s Offense and Its Impact http://saltcityhoops.com/a-breakdown-of-jerry-sloans-offense-and-its-impact/ http://saltcityhoops.com/a-breakdown-of-jerry-sloans-offense-and-its-impact/#comments Tue, 22 Oct 2013 18:16:35 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=8049 Author information
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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If you missed part one of this two-part series, we covered the amazing impact coach Jerry Sloan had, not only on the Jazz teams he coached but on the city in which he coached them.  Here in part two, we’ll focus in more detail on how ahead of his time Sloan was with his offensive system, and how his innovations have helped shape the modern game as we know it.

NBA offenses, almost like fashion, have gone through many trends and fads over the course of league history.  In the 60’s and 70’s, nearly all legitimate offenses ran through the center; the game’s first greats like Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and George Mikan all occupied the middle.  Offense was very deliberate in this era, with the goal of advancing the ball up, getting the center in position on the block, and either feeding him the ball there or finding the open man if defenses double-teamed the center.  For various reasons (lack of popularity of the game and racial inequality, to name a couple), players like Wilt and Russell – and later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and others – had very few peers in terms of sheer physical ability.  Wilt, especially, was a physical specimen never before seen in the league.  As a result, the center-focused offense remained the staple of most successful teams all the way up through the late 70’s and even somewhat into the 80s.

But with the turn of the decade in 1980 came a new wave of players, and with them some advancing strategies.  Some coaches had started to realize the advantages of the fast break, and teams like the Showtime Lakers, led by Magic Johnson, started pushing the tempo more often after opponent misses.  It was a slow shift away from the style of the 60’s and 70’s, however, as the teams who dominated the decade (Lakers with Kareem, Celtics with McHale) still employed some of history’s finest post players.  But the landscape had begun to shift, and it continued to do so with the increasingly guard-oriented styles pioneered by teams like the Bad Boy Pistons, Michael Jordan’s Bulls, and Dominique Wilkins’ Hawks.  By the time the 90’s rolled around, teams around the league had fully embraced the fast break as a successful strategy, and half-court offenses began to lean more on isolation plays for guards and wing players.  Everyone, it seemed, had found the new formula.

Everyone, that is, but Sloan and his Jazz.  But far from being a step behind the rest of the league, Jerry was a step (or several) ahead.  Instead of continuing the center-dominated offense that had reigned during his playing days, Sloan implemented his own version of the “flex” offense, a system developed in the 1970’s.  The basic flex involves constant movement from all five offensive players, with down screens and cuts utilized in multiple areas of the floor.  While the basic system itself is quite simple, the variations are nearly endless, part of what makes it such an effective system.

When working properly, the flex is designed to maximize good looks at the rim via passes off cuts.  While neither results in a basket, let’s look at a couple very basic examples of the flex as run by the Jazz:


Note the variety of actions taking place all over the court, even when the ball is nowhere near the players involved.  The second clip, in particular, is quite informative; look at how the Jazz rotate through three different screen actions just to free up Al Jefferson with good position on the block.  This sort of attention to detail and layering of actions is incredibly confusing to defenses.  Even when they know what’s coming (and folks knew what was coming from Sloan’s Jazz for two solid decades), the amount of variation makes it nearly impossible to stop when executed correctly.

The staple, of course, is the pick-and-roll.  While he didn’t invent the play type, Jerry’s Jazz teams perfected and popularized what is now the simplest and most frequently-run form of offense league-wide.  Credit Sloan an incredible amount here: he understood the makeup of his roster, kept it that way, and engineered a variation of the flex which would best maximize the talents he had.  For a plethora of examples of how good of a job he did, watch the magic that was created between Stockton and Malone (and thanks to Jazzbasketball1 for making the video)

So what were the results?  Well, beyond the obvious lasting success the Jazz had running this system while everyone else was relying on isolation game and post-ups, there are some fairly incredible data points to show just how innovative this offense was within the NBA.

The key to Sloan’s system was assists.  When it was humming, the Jazz had opposing defenses scrambling all over the court, confused by all the various actions, which would inevitably lead to a passing opening for the ball handler.  Naturally, with most other teams running systems centered more around individuals, you’d expect the Jazz to frequently be at or near the top of the league in assists…but the results exceed even the most adventurous expectations.

In Sloan’s 23 years as head coach (including the partial season of his departure), the Jazz finished in the top three league-wide for total assists a staggering 15 times.  They were first overall in seven different seasons, and it would have been nine if not for Steve Nash and his “seven seconds or less” offense in Phoenix.  Finally, out of all 23 seasons with Jerry on the bench, the Jazz finished outside the league’s top seven for total assists one time.  This instance was the 2003-04 season, the first in nearly two decades that Stockton and Malone were not on the roster after Stockton’s retirement and the Mailman’s move to Los Angeles…so you can understand the temporary downswing.

Taking this a step further, let’s look beyond the raw numbers and into where the assists were coming.  Remember how we noted that the flex is meant to open up looks to the rim?  Well, with an assist (see what I did there?) from hoopdata.com, we can analyze the field goal and assist percentages for various distances from the hoop, one of which is “At the Rim.”  Unfortunately, this information is only available as far back as the 2006-07 season, but we still have some good data to work with.

And once again, the results are remarkable.  Hoopdata tracks attempts, makes, and percentage of makes assisted on for each distance range.  For the “At the Rim” category, from 2007-2010 (excluding the year Sloan left, throwing things into turmoil) the Jazz ranked in the top three league-wide for all three areas measured.  What this means is that not only were they creating open looks at the hoop and converting them at a high rate, they were doing so via the passing game more than anyone else in the NBA.  And keep in mind that these were the years at the tail end of Sloan’s tenure, with the most lethal pick-and-roll combination in history no longer on his roster – one could easily assume that the advanced assist numbers might have been even more lopsided during the Stockton to Malone days.

The numbers are hard to believe, but after watching tape they start to make more sense.  Take a look at this 10-second clip, and see how many Jazz screens you can count:

If you missed a couple, don’t feel bad; NBA defenses spent 20+ years doing the exact same thing.  By my count, the Jazz set five picks during that simple 10-second sequence.  Try stopping that for an entire game, every possession.

Before too long, the league had taken notice of Sloan’s innovations.  As the millennium came and went, teams started incorporating more and more of the flex into their own systems.  As the Internet and advanced metrics gained steam, still more teams and coaches started noticing how effective some of the basic flex principles were, whether used on their own or incorporated into a more elaborate scheme.  One thing led to another, and now, in the year 2013, we find ourselves in an NBA where over half of the offensive plays run involve some kind of pick-and-roll action.  Things like down screens, double screens, and back cuts – all staples of the flex – aren’t even considered part of a specific system anymore, rather simply a part of the game.  There is no longer an NBA offense that operates without these simple actions.

They say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, right?  So what’s it called when not only is everyone copying your system, but it’s become so popular that it’s not even a system anymore, just a part of the game?  Maybe Jerry can invent a new word for us, too.

From an emotional and sentimental standpoint, there’s no arguing that Jerry Sloan impacted the Jazz and their fans in a series of incredible ways.  But from a strategic angle, his contributions to the league as a whole may have exceeded even those; Jerry Sloan changed the basic way in which the entire game of NBA basketball was played.  He was running a system in 1990 that well over half the league wouldn’t even begin to adopt until 15 years later, and the league as a whole wouldn’t fully embrace until nearly 20 years after he began running it.  What a coach.  What a man.  It’s great to have you back, Jerry.

Author information

Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Jerry Sloan: A Biography http://saltcityhoops.com/jerry-sloan-a-biography/ http://saltcityhoops.com/jerry-sloan-a-biography/#comments Mon, 21 Oct 2013 17:41:23 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=8045 Author information
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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th-2“…I’ve always said that the most important thing in sports is to keep trying. Let this be an example of what it means to say it’s never over.”

Every Jazz fan over the age of 20 or so remembers The Hug – perhaps the single most iconic moment in Utah sports history. Mailman sets the pick, Russell on the inbound feed, Barkley comes out to challenge…you know the rest.  The image of Stockton, Malone and Hornacek embracing at midcourt will no doubt be the lasting impression of this moment in history.  But for many, the less-famous quote above, spoken in the aftermath of this incredible triumph, came to represent not only the man who said it but the team, the city and the culture he was such an integral part of.

The quote, of course, is from Jerry Sloan.  And maybe he didn’t mean it in a larger sense at the time – the Jazz had been down 12 in the second half before mounting a comeback culminating in Stockton’s game-winner.  But for a man who spent his entire life trying as hard as he could at everything, it just seems appropriate to view those words as part of a bigger picture.

And just as those words came to define something larger about a man, the man came to define something much larger about a team, a city, a community.  To Utahns, even the ones who didn’t closely follow the Jazz, Sloan became something more than just a coach.  And with the announcement over the summer of his return to their front office, what better time than to examine just how the man grew into such a legend?  In this two-part series, we’ll look at how Jerry Sloan helped shape not only the culture of the Utah Jazz, but the culture of the NBA as a whole – and how he did so on his own terms.

The Early Years:

The youngest of 10 children, Sloan was used to working for everything he got.  As a child, he lost his father at the age of four and was mostly forced to fend for himself.  He worked hard, getting up at 4:30 A.M. every day so that he could both finish his chores and walk to basketball practice on time.  His perseverance paid off, as he eventually became the star player for Evansville College and was drafted in 1965 by the Baltimore Bullets, playing one season there before spending the next 10 years as a Chicago Bull.  In Chicago, he gained a reputation as a tough, hard-working player (see a theme here?) capable of excellent play on both ends of the court.  It’s telling that the only awards he won in the pros were his six combined appearances on the First-and-Second All-Defensive teams.  After retiring, he quickly became an assistant with Chicago before taking over their head-coaching job in 1979, where he stayed for three seasons.

The time period surrounding Sloan’s ascendance to the head coaching position in Utah wasn’t exactly a bed of roses for the franchise he joined.  After a somewhat disappointing debut coaching the Bulls (he went 94-121), Jerry came on to the staff as a scout and then as an assistant to then-coach Frank Layden.  While by this point the Jazz were working their way back to relevancy, the previous decade had been mired by some controversy and a lack of team success.  Their move from New Orleans to Salt Lake City in 1979 was the first point of contention; after struggling with venue and money issues throughout their half-decade in the Big Easy, the move was met with some skepticism as to Salt Lake’s ability to support a pro basketball franchise.

The next several years were no better, as the on-court product suffered along with the potential future of the franchise.  The Jazz traded their first-round pick in 1979 as part of a deal to acquire Gail Goodrich, a pick the Lakers used to select Magic Johnson first overall.  In that same deal, they also gave up the rights to center Moses Malone.  Goodrich proved ineffective and injury-prone, while Johnson and Malone went on to Hall of Fame careers.  Three years later, another draft embarrassment – a trade of third-overall pick Dominique Wilkins for John Drew and Freeman Williams that ended up as one of the worst in NBA history after Wilkins became a star while Drew and Williams faded into obscurity.  While their hand was forced on this one (‘Nique refused to play in Utah), their inability to secure a better package for him didn’t do the front office any favors in the years to come.

Sloan’s arrival as a scout/assistant in 1985 coincided with the first bits of light at the end of the Jazz’s tunnel.  While unpopular at the time, the selection of Stockton in the 1984 draft would obviously turn out to be an excellent move.  Ditto for the addition of Malone the following year, and with the franchise in the process of an ownership change, fortunes were looking up.  Sloan took over from Layden 17 games into the 1988-89 season, beginning a run of 16 consecutive seasons where the Jazz made the playoffs under his guidance.  The young core of Stockton and Malone were gaining chemistry, and while both of Jerry’s first two seasons ended in disappointing first-round losses, the Jazz were on the upswing in a loaded league.

Contenders:

From the 1991-92 season all the way until after the turn of the millennium, Utah was the most consistent franchise in the league.  They made five conference finals appearances, two NBA Finals, and only finished under 50 wins once (not counting the shortened year in 1999) from 1992-2002.

While a portion of this success can of course be attributed to the players and Sloan’s on-court system, the underlying theme was always hard work.  He expected 100% from all his players, and gave them the same in return.  “He taught me that lunch pail-type attitude,” said former Jazz guard CJ Miles years later, who added that Sloan was “the reason I got in the NBA.”  In a league trending in the direction of flashy players and big egos, Jerry wanted the opposite.  His workmanlike approach endeared him not only to his players (most of them, at least), but to the community in Utah as a whole.  While he was certainly an innovator in many ways (specifically his version of the flex system, which we’ll cover in detail in part two), the traditional, blue-collar approach he took allowed fans to identify with him.  He defended his players on the court and in the media, and wasn’t afraid to let his emotions show on the bench.  In short, he brought a consistent atmosphere to a franchise that badly needed it.  Remember that the Jazz were the first major sports franchise in Utah, and also remember that they had spent much of the previous decade struggling as a team – and if you think it’s tough to win in a small market in 2013, imagine how much harder it would have been before the advent of the Internet and globalized media.  Put it all together, and what you get is a hand-in-glove situation – simply a perfect fit.

Off the court, it was more of the same.  Sloan’s style with the players made him popular among Utahns, but his caring and down-to-earth personality made him a legend.  He was married to his first wife, Bobbye, for 41 years before her death from cancer in 2004, and has three children who all speak highly of him.  He was involved with a charity called The Hand-in-Hand Foundation, created by his family after Bobbye’s death to give high school scholarships to assist individuals and communities in providing education.

He was humble in success, always passing off the credit to his players – to the point where he refused to allow the Jazz to nominate him for the Hall of Fame until John Stockton went in so he could spend his entire speech crediting Stockton and basically everyone but himself for his success.  The next time you have 20 minutes, watch that speech again.  For as impossible as it is to know a person after watching them talk for 20 minutes, it’s easy to see the modest, polite man who a fanbase fell in love with.

While his abrupt exit from the franchise was a departure from his normally deliberate process, it was carried out in typical Jerry fashion.  He made a decision, and then he stuck to it.  The Jazz have struggled somewhat since he left, but nothing like the years before his arrival – and so much of it is because of the imprint he left.  The term there in spirit isn’t generally used in sports, but perhaps it’s a worthy sentiment in this case; regardless of whether we ever see Jerry Sloan behind the bench again, there’s no doubt the stability and identity he brought to the franchise will remain for many years to come.

Join us for part two tomorrow, where we discuss Sloan’s impact on the Jazz’s strategy and the evolution of NBA offenses.

Author information

Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Ian Clark: Another Diamond in the Rough for the Jazz? http://saltcityhoops.com/ian-clark-another-diamond-in-the-rough-for-the-jazz/ http://saltcityhoops.com/ian-clark-another-diamond-in-the-rough-for-the-jazz/#comments Wed, 04 Sep 2013 20:01:07 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=7555 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Ian Clark

Ian Clark had a great college career at Belmont University: his senior year, he averaged 18.2 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 2.4 APG. More incredibly, he also had a True Shooting Percentage of 68.8% and an eFG% of 67.0%. Clark was the Ohio Valley Conference Co-Player of the Year, while also nabbing the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year honors. He propelled his team to the NCAA Tournament. Things were looking good for him.

Yet NBA Draft night came and went without Clark’s name being called, and as an undrafted rookie, he had to show teams what he could do in the summer leagues. Playing for both the Miami Heat and the Golden State Warriors’ summer entries, he displayed solid defense, the ability to handle the ball, and above all, a pure shooter’s touch. In the championship game in Las Vegas, Clark shot his way to 33 points and the MVP award. He quickly became a wanted commodity around the NBA, with many teams clamoring to lock him up. The Utah Jazz emerged the winner, with the main selling point being the ability to come in right away to compete for a role. He was told he’d have an opportunity to, if his performance warranted it, play right away for this young Utah team.

Could Ian Clark be the next diamond in the rough for a franchise that has long had success uncovered the hidden gems? The Utah Jazz certainly hope so.

Here’s a brief look back at some guys who Clark can look to as examples:

  • Rickey Green was a first-round pick whose rocky first two seasons saw he make a sojourn to the CBA. Frank Layden discovered him, eventually grooming him to be an All-Star for the Jazz. “The Fastest of them All” had some excellent seasons for Utah, averaging between 13 and 14.8 PPG while never dishing less than 7.8 APG. for four seasons, For four seasons, he teamed up with a young guy named John Stockton to be one of the NBA’s best PG tandems.
  • We all know the story: Mark Eaton, after an less than illustrious career at UCLA, was working as a mechanic – a 7’4″ mechanic. Layden offered him a chance to play professional basketball and Eaton went down as one of the most intimidating defenders in NBA history. His size and propensity to swat shots led to two Defensive Player of the Year awards, five All-Defense nods, an All-Star appearance, and his #53 being retired by the Jazz. He led the league in blocked shots four times, including a record 5.56 BPG in 1985. His career 3.5 BPG average is the highest in NBA history.
  • Bobby Hansen did not have an attractive game, nor was he athletic. But his grittiness and attitude also caught Layden’s eye. He developed into a solid three-point shooter, but it was his defensive energy that helped him enjoy a very long NBA career (and an eventual championship behind Michael Jordan).
  • David Benoit was an undrafted rookie whose heady play in the Rocky Mountain Revue earned him a roster spot. He was a leaper who infused much needed athleticism into the Jazz roster. He quickly earned a rotational role, being a part-time starter for six seasons for Utah. While many recall the clanked three-pointers against Houston vividly, he came out of nowhere to become an important part of some strong Jazz squads.
  • Bryon Russell was a late second-round pick who surprised immediately by being named a starter his rookie campaign. But by his third season, he was on the verge of being cut. Taking advantage of some injuries and match-ups, B-Russ showed what he could truly do in the 1996 playoffs (averaging 9.6 PPG in the postseason, compared to 2.9 during the regular season). He never turned back, becoming Utah’s stalwart small forward the next six years, including the two trips to the NBA Finals.
  • Shandon Anderson was the 54th pick, an after thought. He scrapped and hustled his way to make the team and earn PT his rookie year. His mix of instant offense, constant slashing, and aggressive defense earned Jerry Sloan’s respect and he became a fan favorite. While he exited after three seasons, he too was a vital cog in some of Utah’s best teams.
  • Howard Eisley was plucked off the trash heap by the Jazz. Waived by both Minnesota and San Antonio, the Jazz thought he could be a decent reserve. While his first two seasons were rather pedestrian, he showed what could really do in the 1997 Finals run. He was the best back-up point guard Stockton ever had, and helped extend Stockton’s career by absorbing more and more minutes, even playing alongside #12. He was efficient and showed a deft outside touch.
  • Paul Millsap was college basketball’s best rebounder, yet few had heard much about him. Many viewed him as an undersized power forward who might have difficulty adapting to the pro game. He destroyed those doubts quickly, emerging as a tremendous bench player his rookie season. He got better each season (including the wonderful string of double-doubles) until he took over the starting gig when Carlos Boozer exited. He was a borderline All-Star the past few seasons, while his advanced statistics showed he was among the NBA’s best. His hard work and endless effort will always endear him to the Jazz community.
  • Wesley Matthews went undrafted and was trying to make a team with plenty of wings (Ronnie Brewer, CJ Miles, Kyle Korver, Andrei Kirilenko). He took advantage of some preseason injuries to eke his way onto the roster. Matthews quickly became a rotational player, even started in the playoffs and helped defend Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant. While Portland stole him after one season, he was another success story for the Jazz.
  • There are plenty of others: Mo Williams (his first stint), Raja Bell (ditto), Greg Foster, Carlos Arroyo, John Crotty, Jarron Collins (had a nice rookie season and while not spectacular, a long career), and DeMarre Carroll all come to mind.

As I study Clark’s game more, I think he will prove to be a capable rotational player for the Jazz. As a combo guard who can open up things with his perimeter marksmanship, he could see solid minutes from the get-go – especially as some teammates come back from injury.

Who knows… perhaps the Jazz have found yet one more diamond.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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The Greatness of Jeff Hornacek http://saltcityhoops.com/the-greatness-of-jeff-hornacek/ http://saltcityhoops.com/the-greatness-of-jeff-hornacek/#comments Wed, 07 Aug 2013 16:44:25 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=7336 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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While some of the different articles out there have varying opinions on how the Jazz off-season has fared (NBA.com’s David Aldridge, for instance, listed Utah 29th of 30), in many ways, I think the Jazz are having a very nice summer.

The combination of their roster moves (the Draft, trades, free agency), as well as their front office efforts (bringing Jerry Sloan and Karl Malone back into the fold, along with the the major upgrades at EnergySolutions Arena), have many Jazz fans optimistic about the direction of the franchise. And rightfully so.

For me, however, there has been one negative this off-season: Jeff Hornacek is no longer on the bench. Like most, I am genuinely happy that Hornacek has been given the chance at a head coaching gig–especially this early on in this part of his career. It is still bittersweet, though, to see him not with the Utah Jazz.

Hornacek was one of the heroes of my childhood. I grew up during the glory days of John Stockton, Karl Malone, Sloan, and Hornacek. I remember fondly the day Utah made the best deadline deal in team history: acquiring Jeff from the Philadelphia Sixers. He automatically teamed up with #12 and #32 to form a truly great trio.

That said, I think we sometimes underestimate how great and underrated Jeff Hornacek truly was. Fortunately he has been given some well-deserved accolades lately in the media.

ESPN Insider’s Tom Haberstroh ranked the Best Big Threes in modern NBA history, using Kevin Pelton’s wins above replacement value metric (WARP). The Jazz troika finished fourth (behind the threesomes for the Celtics (Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale), Bulls (Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant), and the Spurs (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili). Haberstroh emphasized Hornacek’s contributions to that big three:

A former All-Star and one of the premier shooters of his time, Hornacek probably doesn’t garner the recognition that he deserves. The guy was a beacon of efficiency and nearly joined the 50-40-90 club in field goal percentage, free throw percentage and 3-point percentage, respectively, during his entire run with the Jazz. Easily the best Big Three to never win the title.

My Twitter friend, Curtis Harris of ProHoopsHistory.com, also recently focused on Hornacek with an excellent analysis.

In addition to what these two have written, if you’ll indulge me, here are some reasons why I feel Jeff was great:

  • For the longest time, Stockton had to do the bulk of the ball handling and facilitating. That’s natural, you say, since he was the epitome of a point guard. That said, he needed help, so as to help lighten the load. Before Jeff arrived, John’s backcourt partners were Darrell Griffith, Bobby Hansen, Jeff Malone, and even Andy Toolson. They were all good fits, but none could offer the playmaking expertise Hornacek did. This enabled John to occasionally play off the ball, while Jeff would take turns at the helm. Likewise, Jeff was able to play back-up point guard minutes (before Howard Eisley was acquired). In my opinion, all this helped lengthen Stockton’s career.
  • We could go on and on about his shooting. Perhaps because of his all-around game and unassuming personality, Hornacek is unfairly not included in discussions about the game’s best shooters. One thing I loved: Hornacek’s shooting was especially vital in the fourth quarters. He not only helped spread the floor, but his free throw shooting in the clutch was essential in icing games.
  • He shot between 48-51% each season from the floor, connected on 40%+ from three-point range in each season except one, and never shot lower than 88.2% from the line with the Jazz. Oh, and he led the NBA in free throw percentage with an insane 95.0% clip his final season. That’s 19 of every 20 shots made.
  • Jeff and John were one of the best shooting back courts in NBA history. Remarkably underrated.
  • Hornacek’s defense was steady. He simply could not match his opponents physically, but he played heady position defense, using crafty moves to stick between his man and the basket. He effectively was able to get into others’ heads. Just ask Jerry Stackhouse. Hornacek also effectively played the passing lanes.
  • It was not until Hornacek came to town that the Jazz became an above average road team. That was a thorn in the side of many of those late 80s/early 90s Utah squads. With Jeff, the Jazz became a more potent, more cerebral team. He brought mental toughness that contributed to a big turnaround away from the Delta Center.
  • In six and a half seasons, Jeff missed 10 games. An iron man, just like Karl and John.
  • Utah’s record with Jeff Hornacek: 350-137 (.719), including the three 60-win seasons in franchise history, four visits to the conference finals, and of course, the two series versus the Bulls.
  • The 8-8 three-point night versus Seattle was electric.

Well, there you have it: more reasons why Jeff Hornacek was great. These are just some of the reasons why #14 is hanging in the ESA rafters.

What are your favorite Hornacek moments? Feel free to share in the comments.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Jazz Quietly Winning the Off-season http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-quietly-winning-the-off-season/ http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-quietly-winning-the-off-season/#comments Thu, 20 Jun 2013 18:58:12 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=6663 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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A few weeks ago, assistant coach and Utah Jazz legend Jeff Hornacek left the team for the Phoenix Suns coaching gig. That was a bittersweet day for most fans, as few are as adored as Horny was/is. We were sad to see a beloved player and bright assistant coach leave, but were also happy for him to get a head coaching opportunity, especially this early in this new phase of his career. He’ll do great in Phoenix.

Since then, however, the Utah Jazz have quietly been winning the off-season.

While the Draft, free agency, summer league, and potential trades are the main components of the off-season, what the Jazz have accomplished the past few weeks is setting the foundation for a very memorable and successful summer.

First, Karl Malone was brought back into the fold as a special coach working with the big guys. Naturally the thought of the Mailman spending time with Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Jeremy Evans, and whoever else is drafted or signed is exciting in itself. If the Hall of Fame power forward can share even a glimpse of his work ethic, professionalism, and absolute knowledge of the game, the young guys will be much better for it. While it is a part-time gig and it remains unknown how much time will be expended or the exact levels of involvement for Malone, it is refreshing to see Karl back where he belongs: with the Utah Jazz.

Moreover, it signifies a burying of the hatchet between Malone and Greg Miller. Over the years, some inflammatory comments, blog posts, and tweets were exchanged. By having this agreement, it shows that both are ready to move forward, together. After all, every time Karl and Larry H. Miller has a disagreement, they made up and had a stronger relationship afterwards. This just makes me happy

Second, the Jazz announced the improvements to EnergySolutions Arena. The enormous video board, the scoreboards, and the improved sound system will give the fans an even better experience. For years, a replacement for the outdated Jumbotron was amongst fans’ biggest requests and complaints. What the Jazz are doing to ESA could exceed anyone’s expectations and hopes.

Third, Jerry Sloan too has returned in an official capacity: senior basketball adviser. A few years removed from those fateful two weeks that saw the Dean of Coaches and an All-NBA point guard in Deron Williams leave Salt Lake City, the former is back. His job description is interesting, as it focuses on scouting, but allows for ample opportunities to consult Tyrone Corbin and the coaching staff, as well as Dennis Lindsey and Kevin O’Connor on basketball matters.

Lastly, the way Lindsey, O’Connor and company have gone about the Draft process has been refreshing. The sheer amount of workouts has been remarkable, and I venture to guess that getting so many players in town is more complicated than it appears. Furthermore the 24-player free agent camp has Dennis Lindsey written all over it.

Now, some of these developments may not excite some, and the next two months will constitute the heart of the off-season. But what is happening is encouraging. The Jazz are being deliberate and intentional in what they are doing, drawing upon and connecting to the past, while ushering in a new mindset and era.

All eyes will be watching the way the roster unfolds (the question for most: are the Jazz going to fully embrace turning the team over to the young guys), but the last few weeks have reminded me: it is a great time to be a Utah Jazz fan.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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