Jazz coach Jerry Sloan to resign Thursday; Ty Corbin to replace

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UPDATE #2, 4:39 pm: It has been confirmed now by the Salt Lake Tribune and other sources that current Jazz assistant Ty Corbin will take over as the Jazz interim head coach.

UPDATE 2:38 pm: This is about as official as it will get until Sloan steps up to the podium, Jazz players are calling their agents saying Sloan is out, according to a tweet from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Most expect Ty Corbin to get the job.

The press conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. in Utah (5 p.m. Eastern). It will be shown live on NBA.com.

1:44 pm: Long-time Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan will resign at a  press conference in a couple hours, according to a tweet from the Deseret News.

Sloan is the longest tenured coach in the NBA, having taken over back in 1988. Sloan, 68, just announced days ago that he had signed a one-year extension with the team. Reports are assistant Phil Johnson also is stepping down.

We say stepping down, although we wonder how much he was pushed out the door. As much as an institution like Sloan could be forced to do anything in Utah.

Wednesday night Sloan, usually one of the fastest coaches to the post-game media interview, was more than 30 minutes late and appeared “shaken” when he arrived. When asked about it Sloan said he, General Manager Kevin O’Connor and the rest of the staff had a post-game meeting but would not go into details. He said the media would be informed Thursday of what was discussed.

The Jazz have struggled this season compared to previous seasons, they are 31-23 and the six seed in the West. But that has a lot more to do with Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver and Wes Mathews leaving via free agency, being replaced by lesser talents like Al Jefferson (a poor fit for Sloan’s flex offense), than anything Sloan has done. Last season C.J. Miles could barely get on the floor, this season Sloan has to use him in key situations because there is no Jazz bench to speak of. Mehmet Okur has played in just 13 games. Sloan has been the same coach for decades, he gets the most out of what he is given, he has taken bad teams to the playoffs and good teams to the finals. He didn’t forget how to coach, he was just was given less to work with by O’Conner this season.

There have been 245 coaching changes around the NBA since Jerry Sloan took over his job.

As for potential successors, it is likely the Jazz would want to keep it in the family, so to speak. The most likely choice is Ty Corbin, although Jeff Hornacek could be in the mix.

Rumor: Paul George told former Pacers teammates he wanted to join the Lakers

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Paul George to the Lakers is a capital-T thing.

George is from Southern California, and he keeps indicating his dissatisfaction with the Pacers. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Even Lakers president Magic Johnson is talking about George.

Where do rumors like this originate?

Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News:

A SoCal native, he’s been talking about playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, for a long time. He’s never made his long-term intentions a secret within the Pacers’ locker room, according to former teammates. He wants to wear the purple and gold.

Did George say he dreamed of playing for the Lakers growing up? Did he say it’d be cool to join his boyhood favorite team if the situation presented itself? Or did he say he wanted to get the heck out of Indiana to join the Lakers as soon as possible?

There are so many ways his comments to teammates could get misconstrued as they get passed down in the game of telephone.

But the Lakers threat – to whatever degree it’s real – looms, and it’ll impact how the Pacers handle their offseason.

Jazz call deactivating Jeff Withey, who was accused of domestic violence, ‘strategic basketball-related decision’

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Jazz Center Jeff Withey was accused of domestic violence in a police report filed by his ex-fiancée.

Withey played a small role in Utah’s first two playoff games, but once the accusation over an alleged 2016 incident became public, he hasn’t seen the court. Withey received a DNP-CD in Game 3 against the Clippers, and the Jazz deactivated the center for Game 4 last night.

Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News:

The team called it a “strategic basketball-related decision.”

Withey was always going to see a reduced role with Rudy Gobert returning from injury.

Though Gobert didn’t play in Game 3, the Jazz had two injured players – Gobert and Alec Burks on the inactive list – so Withey was active but never played. But Withey was active for Game 1, which Gobert started healthy before injuring his knee 11 seconds in.

Therefore, deactivating Withey in Game 4 for Joel Bolomboy, a little-used second-round rookie who has yet to play in the postseason, is a curious choice for basketball reasons. It’s almost as if that wasn’t the reason.

Russell Westbrook on Rockets laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws: ‘Probably the guys that don’t play’

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The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.

Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.

But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.