Former Bulls player, Hall of Fame Jazz coach Jerry Sloan dies at 78

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Jerry Sloan, the tough-as-nails defensive-minded wing player of the Chicago Bulls in the 1960s and ’70s who went on to coach the Utah Jazz for 23 seasons and was inducted into the Hall of Fame, died at 78.

Sloan had been battling Parkinson’s disease for years and had reportedly worsened in recent weeks.

“Jerry Sloan will always be synonymous with the Utah Jazz,” the team said in a statement. “He will forever be a part of the Utah Jazz organization and we join his family, friends and fans in mourning his loss. We are so thankful for what he accomplished here in Utah and the decades of dedication, loyalty and tenacity he brought to our franchise.

“Like Stockton and Malone as players, Jerry Sloan epitomized the organization. He will be greatly missed. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Tammy, the entire Sloan family and all who knew and loved him.”

Sloan was the youngest of 10 children, born in McLeansboro, Illinois. He was a driven child who literally walked to school and home after basketball practice, but his play got him into Evansville College, where he starred. He was drafted by the Baltimore Bullets and played one season there before being picked up by the Chicago Bulls in an expansion draft.

Sloan played a decade for the Bulls and was a six-time All-Defensive Team player and two-time All-Star. His No. 4 was the first one retired by the franchise and it still hangs in the rafters at the United Center.

When his playing days were over, he became an assistant coach with Chicago, and eventually the team’s head coach for three years, but that didn’t work out (94-121 record). From there, Sloan was hired as a scout, then promoted to being an assistant to then-coach Frank Layden.

Sloan took over for Layden as the head coach for the final 17 games into the 1988-89 season after Layden resigned, which started a run of 15 consecutive seasons where Sloan led the Jazz to the playoffs.

He did it guiding a young core built around John Stockton at the point and Karl Malone at the forward. It was the glory days of Utah basketball and included two trips to the NBA Finals (where they had the bad luck of running into Jordan’s Bulls during the second three-peat).

Sloan won 1,127 games as the Jazz coach running his flex offense, making 20 trips to the NBA Playoffs, and in 2009 was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a coach. Overall his 1,221 coaching win is third-most all-time, and his .603 winning percentage is sixth-best all-time. Sloan coached 1,809 games with Utah, the second most by one coach with one franchise in NBA history (Gregg Popovich is first).

Sloan was known as an old-school, hard-nosed coach and it won him fans among both players and the Jazz fans (who would always erupt when Sloan would attend a game and be shown on the big screen).

“It was an honor and a privilege to have one of the greatest and most respected coaches in NBA history coaching our team,” The Miller family, owners of the Jazz, said in a statement. “We have appreciated our relationship with Jerry and acknowledge his dedication to and passion for the Utah Jazz. He has left an enduring legacy with this franchise and our family. The far-reaching impact of his life has touched our city, state and the world as well as countless players, staff and fans. We pray his family will find solace and comfort in Jerry’s life. The Miller family and Jazz organization will be proud to honor him with a permanent tribute.”

Report: Eight non-restart teams near deal for second NBA “bubble” in Chicago

NBA bubble Chicago
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The eight teams with the worst records in the NBA, the ones not invited to Orlando for the NBA’s restart — Warriors, Timberwolves, Cavaliers, Hawks, Pistons, Knicks, Bulls, and Hornets — have been asking the NBA to organize workouts and games for them, so they don’t lose ground to the teams in the bubble.

ESPN’s Jackie MacMullen reports that is close to coming together in the form of a second NBA bubble in Chicago.

The details are still being hammered out, and teams continue to push for an alternative plan that would enable them to hold mini-camps within their local markets and to explore the idea of establishing regional sites where teams could scrimmage against each other.

This second bubble likely would take place in September, while the playoffs take place down into Orlando. Not every team is fully on board.

 

The eight teams had been concerned that going from March to December without meaningful games — while the other 22 teams had training camps and played at least eight games — would put the development of their young players and cultures behind. Teams pushed for practices and some organized games, although some franchises have pushed harder than others.

Michelle Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, reportedly is insistent that if the eight teams get together in Chicago the players be protected by the same protocols in place in Orlando.

“Unless we could replicate in every way the protocol that’s been established for Orlando, I’d be – I’m being tame now – suspicious,” Roberts said last week in a conference call with reporters. “I think there are conversations that could be had if there’s anything we can do with the other eight teams. I know there are some players, particularly young players, that seem concerned they’re not getting enough [opportunities]…

“But I am very concerned and frankly, my concern aside, our players, our teams are very concerned about any — in terms of play that doesn’t have the same guarantees of safety and health that we’ve provided for the teams in Orlando. So yeah, never say never, but there’s a standard. It’s a standard that’s got to be met.”

Mark Tatum, the NBA’s deputy commissioner, quickly agreed with Roberts.

Expect an NBA Chicago bubble to come together in some form. Some of the eight teams on the outside — the Atlanta Hawks with their young core, for example — have pushed hard to get their players opportunities for games and workouts. Each of the eight teams are in different spots, however, and have different motivations. Golden State likely will not send Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson, this would be about getting younger players some extra run.

 

Donovan Mitchell on Jazz teammate Rudy Gobert: ‘Right now, we’re good’

Jazz stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert
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Following their coronavirus diagnoses, Donovan Mitchell was clearly upset with Jazz teammate Rudy Gobert.

Gobert said he and Mitchell were good. Jazz executive Dennis Lindsey said Mitchell and Gobert were good.

Now, we’re actually hearing from Mitchell himself.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

This goes WAY further than anyone else speaking for Mitchell.

Mitchell was entitled to carry a grudge for a while. Gobert’s reckless actions made him more likely to contract and spread coronavirus.

At minimum, Mitchell is willing to say publicly he’s on the same page as Gobert. That’s meaningful. Teammates needn’t be best friends to succeed. But they generally perform better when they set their differences aside. However he actually feels about Gobert, Mitchell is setting a tone of putting the team first.

This isn’t surprising. Mitchell has shown he can remain focused and work hard amid adversity. Gobert plays a supportive style that makes life easier for teammates (though he has sometimes drifted from it this season). These are professionals who were always likely to reach this point.

Of course, this coexistence could be fragile. Among the biggest variables: How will Utah perform in the resumption at Disney World? Winning tends to bond teammates more tightly. Losing can exacerbate wounds.

At least the Jazz will enter Orlando with their chemistry – relatively – intact. After all they’ve been through, that’s something.

Report: Kings lead assistant Igor Kokoskov to become Fenerbahce head coach

Kings assistant coach Igor Kokoskov
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The Kings are trying to end their historic playoff drought.

They’ll make that push as lead assistant Igor Kokoskov has one foot out the door.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Jason Jones of the The Athletic:

Kokoskov had a rough go in the NBA spotlight. After working his way up the coaching ladder and becoming the Suns’ head coach in 2018-19, he got fired after only one season. Phoenix gave him an ill-equipped roster, notably passing on Luka Doncic in the draft – perhaps despite the input of Kokoskov, who coached Doncic on the Slovenian national team. Maybe Kokoskov wasn’t a good-enough coach. He didn’t build a strong affirmative case. But getting only season in his first head-coaching job was a tough break.

Fenerbahce (Turkey) is a premier overseas job. Kokoskov will succeed a legend in Zeljko Obradovic, who recently drew attention for this, um, motivational speech.

For Sacramento, the timing is tricky. Luke Walton is still in charge. But with traveling parties limited for the resumption at Disney World, teams need the coaches in attendance to pull extra duty. Maybe Kokoskov is up for it. It’d also be completely natural if he’s at least somewhat distracted by his next job.

NBA: Nine more players tested positive for coronavirus

Nets center DeAndre Jordan
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Of the 302 NBA players tested for coronavirus June 23, 16 tested positive (5.3%).

Nets center DeAndre Jordan said he learned of his coronavirus diagnosis five days later. He wasn’t alone in testing positive around then.

NBA:

In tests conducted of 344 NBA players between June 24-29, an additional nine players have tested positive for the coronavirus.   Twenty-five of 351 players have tested positive since testing began on June 23.

In tests conducted of 884 team staff between June 23-29, 10 have tested positive for the coronavirus.

If the NBA’s plan is working, the infection rate among players should decrease as they spend more time in the league’s system of isolation protocols and frequent testing. That appears to be happening. Nine is less than 16. But the exact progress is difficult to track.

It’s unclear how many players who tested positive in the first round of testing were also tested in the second round, let alone how many of them again tested positive in the second round. The 344 players tested in the second round might have had just nine positive tests (2.6%). Or the 344 players tested in the second round might have had 25 positive tests (7.3%).

It’s also unclear how many of the previously announced 16 players have recovered. So, even the total result – 25 of 351 players testing positive (7.1%) – is difficult to contextualize. COVID-19 Projections estimates 0.8% of people in the United States currently have coronavirus. The website also estimates 6.0% of people in the United States have or have had coronavirus. The NBA is not including the many players who tested positive before June 23, making it even more difficult to find a comparison point.

That just 10 of 884 staff members tested positive (1.1%) is encouraging, especially because they tend to live in big cities where teams are located and where coronavirus has tended to hit harder.