Jerry Sloan: “My time is up and I’d like to move on.”

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Friday night, for the first time since the Regan administration, Jerry Sloan is going to have a night off on the night of a Utah Jazz game. What is he going to do?

“I’ll be like a dizzy duck,” he said, a classically homespun like from Sloan at his exit press conference Thursday afternoon.

Thursday afternoon Jerry Sloan officially resigned as the head coach of the Utah Jazz, a job he has held since 1988 (and he was with the team as an assistant before that). Lead assistant Phil Johnson also stepped down. This was clearly an emotional time for the old-school coach known for being a hard ass.

“This is a little bit tougher than I thought it would be…” Sloan said. “The fans and this organization have been second to none.”

Sloan, 68, said he was stepping away and would not be taking a coaching job with another franchise.

When asked about his reasons Sloan came off as both forthright and protecting the locker room. Classic and classy, as one would expect of Sloan.

When asked about a confrontation with Deron Williams last night and any role that and other conflicts may have played, Sloan said he’s had confrontations with players since he started coaching and that was not the motivation for him to retire. Nor was it this team tuning him out, he said.

“I’ve never had a team that did everything I wanted it to on the court,” Sloan said. “That’s means the good teams and some of the teams that weren’t very good. I don’t think any coach bats 100 percent with his team day in and day out. And I don’t think it’s wrong for you wanting them to play that way. Sometimes that’s misleading I think with some players.”

Owner Greg Miller emphasized that this was Sloan’s decision alone, that no player or front office person was pushing him out.

“Up until about 10 minutes ago, we tried to talk Jerry and Phil out of leaving,” Miller said.

Being pushed out and Sloan deciding to walk away because he could read the writing on the wall and did not have the energy for another fight are two different things. When pressed as to why he retired midseason, Sloan continually came back to feeling like he just didn’t have the energy

“My time is up and I’d like to move on….” Sloan said, “I’ve always thought about when am I going to retire, how is that going to happen. There’s always a feeling that hits you, it seems to me, that’s a little bit similar to the one I had when I got fired. So, I had a feeling it was time for me to move on.”

At the same press conference, Ty Corbin was introduced as the new Jazz head coach. There is no interim attached to his title. But Corbin tried to deflect the moment.

“For me this is a bittersweet moment….” Corbin said. “I had no idea going into shootaround yesterday, the game last night and the shootaround today that Jerry and Phil would be leaving us.”

Praise has started to pour in from Sloan, including from NBA Commissioner David Stern.

“Few people have epitomized all the positives of team sports more than Jerry Sloan.  A basketball lifer, Jerry was as relentless in his will to win on the sidelines for the Utah Jazz as he was as an All-Star guard for the Chicago Bulls. In over two decades as a coach, he taught his players that nothing was more important than the team.  His most impressive qualities were his leadership and his extraordinary ability to encourage his players to subjugate their individual games for the benefit of the whole. Two trips to The Finals and over 1,200 regular-season victories more than validate his philosophy. Jerry moves on having established himself as one of the greatest and most respected coaches in NBA history. I and the rest of the NBA family wish him great success and happiness as he moves to the next chapter of his life.”

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.