Tag: Kevin O’Conner

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Report: Spurs assistant Lindsey near deal to become Jazz GM

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We told you today that Jazz general manager Kevin O’Conner was moving on up, taking on a more presidential position within the Utah Jazz organization. Oh, he’ll still be involved in decision making and planning I Utah, but he was weary of doing the day-to-day grind work of a general manager.

Enter the Spurs Dennis Lindsey. Apparently.

That according to Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo.

Utah Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor, one of the NBA’s most respected GMs, is moving into a top executive position with the franchise and San Antonio Spurs assistant GM Dennis Lindsey is finalizing a deal to replace him, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

As I said before, don’t expect this to really change things in how the Jazz operate. O’Conner will still have his finger prints all over player moves, it’s just that Lindsey will help set them up (O’Conner could have hired another assistant GM and kept his title, but nobody would have jumped at a lateral job move).

But it looks like there are some new names in Salt Lake City.

Mehmet Okur officially done for season

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Mehmet Okur hasn’t really been part of the Jazz this season, having played just 13 games for them and having missed the last 22 due to a back injury.

The team has now officially shut him down for the rest of the season.

“His efforts and determination to return from his combined left Achilles’ surgery and back issues may have put undue stress on his body,” said Jazz General Manager Kevin O’Connor in a released statement. “We feel that a concentrated effort to return his back and Achilles’ conditions to acceptable levels is our main concern. Mehmet is expected to be at full speed for the start of the 2011-12 Jazz training camp.”

Okur missed the start of the season (and the FIBA World Championships in his native Turkey) after rupturing his Achilles tendon in the first game of the playoffs last season. He returned in December and played 13 games before his back became too painful to continue.

How Deron Williams almost became a Knick (instead of ‘Melo)

Deron Williams, Avery Johnson, Billy King

If the Denver Nuggets front office had gotten their wishes — if they could have traded Carmelo Anthony to the New Jersey Nets for Derrick Favors and picks rather than to New York — then Deron Williams would be a Knick today.

In one of the infinite alternate universes that is the reality, but in this one just consider the story Sam Amick tells at NBA Confidential a fun postscript on the Melodrama.

As (Jazz GM Kevin) O’Connor told (Knicks president Donnie) Walsh approximately an hour before the game and would later repeat in an interview with NBA Confidential, he targeted the Nets’ and Knicks’ assets and decided to play the waiting game. Somebody would lose in the Anthony sweepstakes, and that team would immediately hear from O’Connor to discuss a marvelous Plan B….

While Walsh is certainly thrilled to land Anthony, he admitted the notion of landing Williams would have been appealing had he known he was on the market. Asked if things might have turned out differently if he was privy to that information, Walsh said with a shrug when asked by NBA Confidential, “it might have.”

O’Conner said the very public way the Nuggets went about this process was part of what allowed him to track what was and was not available when he would call.

Knicks fans love what they have with Anthony, but would Williams have been a better fit with Amar’e Stoudemire and in the Mike D’Antoni offense?

We’ll never know. Consider it a bit of fan fiction if you want.

Go read the story, which has a lengthy Q&A with O’Conner that includes some thoughts about where the Jazz go from here.

Nothing interim here, Jazz sign Tyrone Corbin to three-year deal

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When owner Greg Miller was speaking at the press conference following the resignation of Jerry Sloan, he was very clear — Tyrone Corbin was the new coach of the Jazz. Not interim coach. Just coach.

Now he has put his money where his mouth is, inking Corbin to a three-year deal. Terms of the deal were not released.

“I am confident that Tyrone is the right man to lead this team into the future.  He is someone with longstanding ties to the Jazz and this community, and who has embraced the core philosophies and ideals this organization holds true.  I feel that his character and leadership qualities will be true assets to the Jazz moving forward for many years to come,” Miller said in a released statement.

“Ty has 16 years of experience in this league as a player and has spent the last seven seasons working here as an assistant coach,” said Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor said in the same statement.  “He is ready for this job and we feel certain he will excel as a head coach just as he excelled as an assistant coach and as a player.”

The Jazz are a rebuilding team, it’s a very different thing than what Sloan coached for many years. They got some nice pieces in the D-Will trade, but they are rebuilding. We will see how Corbin is able to deal with that.

The day the Jazz died

Utah Jazz v Houston Rockets, Game 7

It wasn’t supposed to end this way.

Just yesterday, it seemed there were only two possible outcomes to Deron Williams’ future.

Either he would do what LeBron James and Chris Bosh wouldn’t and re-sign with the only team he’s ever known. Or, amid season-long speculation, Williams would fail to assure its residents of his desire to remain in Salt Lake, and be driven from the Rocky Mountains by trade, a la Carmelo Anthony.

As a diehard Jazz fan (believe me, they exist), it would have been easy. Two options. Love or hate. Parades down State Street atop the finest Toyota Corollas Larry H. Miller Automotives could offer, or jersey burning and righteous anger the likes of which Mormons seem particularly capable of.

With the startling news of Williams’ trade to the New Jersey Nets, I, as with most Jazz fans, felt emotionally adrift, starring hopelessly at my mood ring for direction.

Why? Why would GM Kevin O’Connor insist on dumping the prom queen at the slightest chance that they might consider the same a few years from now? It made about as much sense as having a Utah team named after a style of music from America’s south.

Yet once the shock subsided, there came a much worse realization.

The Utah Jazz are no more.

The franchise that had been the very definition of stability and permanence now has the most uncertain future in the NBA.

Mark that calendar. February 23, 2011, the day the Jazz died.

The last serious wave of disorder came after the 2003-04 season. Hall of Fame duo John Stockton and Karl Malone had both decided to move on, one to retirement and the other to see if he could buy a championship in Los Angeles. And though the pair had been the collective face of the franchise for nearly two decades, the supposed upheaval proved to be little more than a hiccup as the Jazz went 42-40 with a starting lineup that included Carlos Arroyo, a 22-year-old DeShawn Stevenson and the ever-menacing Greg Ostertag.

It was nothing short of a coaching miracle, and one that should have yielded former head coach Jerry Sloan his first and only Coach of the Year award.

What the doomsayers had failed to understand prior to that season was that the soul of the Jazz existed just as much in team leadership as in player personnel. It sprang eternal from demanding, no-nonsense Sloan, from his longtime assistant Phil Johnson, and even from late owner Larry Miller, a self-made millionaire with little concern for the trivialities of professional athletes.

In the ensuing years, the team-first culture continued as brass brought in talent that fit the system, rather than the other way around. Most notably, the Jazz added Mehmet Okur and Carlos Boozer via free agency in 2004 and Deron Williams through divine power in the 2005 draft.

While Boozer never quite took to Utah and vice-versa, Williams appeared to be custom-fit. He had a riotous mix of speed and strength, one only exceeded by a profound sense of competition. Plus, he seemed to have no interest in the off-court antics of his contemporaries. Utah loved him.

Sure, there were bumps along the way, particularly that rookie season, but Williams and Sloan maintained their professionalism throughout, going as far as the Western Conference Final in 2007. Williams wasn’t the first player to chafe at Sloan’s sometimes confining structure, and he surely wouldn’t be the last. Somehow, the marriage worked.

When Sloan surprisingly announced his retirement two weeks ago, we Jazz fans wished him well, but we knew that business would continue as usual with Deron as the cultural keeper of the Jazz.

And then we laughed at the notion that Williams had run Sloan out of Salt Lake City.

Sloan, 68 years old and the longest tenured coach in major league sports, hardly needed an excuse to retire. To even hint that a player had driven him away was blasphemy. This was the same man who once challenged Karl Malone to a fistfight and brought Andrei Kirilenko, the Russian AK-47, to tears. If anything, it was that Sloan felt that if he could no longer bring the bite, he should no longer be the man in charge.

In a further sign that it was the end of an era and not the product of a rebellion, with him went chief counsel Johnson, 69 years old and one of the league’s most well-respected assistants.

As long as new head coach Tyrone Corbin didn’t try to reinvent the wheel, the Jazz would be fine.

But then the news of Williams came.

Now there’s little left of the Utah Jazz that made them the Utah Jazz. There’s no Sloan, no Johnson, no Larry Miller, no Stockton disciple, nothing. The franchise threatens to join the Charlotte Bobcats in NBA anonymity.

Some will argue that the Jazz received a worthy bounty in return.  Derrick Favors could turn into a quality talent, and the two draft picks could net even more. But Utah hasn’t had the best record picking at the low end of the lottery (Gordon Hayward selected 9th in the 2010 draft) and nothing is a sure thing in the NBA.

And yet, maybe there’s still hope. Maybe there’s a player at the far corners of the United States, places off like Louisiana Tech and Gonzaga, just waiting to be discovered. Maybe the Jazz should start by visiting a little-known prospect out in Spokane.

First name David, last name Stockton.

Born in Salt Lake City in the year 1 B.S. (Before Stockton), Greg Groggel is now based in Brooklyn, NY, where he writes for television and the web and eagerly awaits the coming of Deron Williams. He can be reached at @Groggel on Twitter.