OAKLAND, Calif. – Jerry Sloan is close to signing a contract extension as coach of the Jazz, he told NBA.com Friday in a predictable development but important signal of his continued passion for the job at age 68.
“It’s pretty much done, as far as that’s concerned,” he said before the Jazz played the Warriors at Oracle Arena.
Sloan is in the final season of his deal, making extension offer inevitable in line with the team policy initiated by late owner Larry Miller that Sloan should never feel the uncertainty of an expiring contract and, just as important, that players and the coach himself understand Sloan had firm control of the locker room. That approach remains in effect with Greg Miller, Larry’s son, in charge, and insiders confirm an agreement is on the way.
Sloan, in his 23rd season, is the longest-tenured head coach in any of the four major sports. He has no desire to work anywhere else and the Jazz have no desire to hire anyone else. The only doubt for years has been how long he wants to stay on the job, with Sloan taking time each summer before deciding whether to return and some people familiar with his thinking speculating in recent years that he had been close to stepping down at least once to get away from the grind and allow close friend and top assistant Phil Johnson to take over a good team in what once would have been an automatic promotion.
The forthcoming extension changes nothing – Sloan undoubtedly will still debate in the summer of 2011 whether to return for another season, labor peace willing. That he has agreed to the framework of an extension, though, is a loud indication he still feels he has the necessary energy and desire for the job.
Sloan, a Hall of Famer, went into Friday’s game against the Warriors with 1,192 victories, four away from passing Pat Riley for third place on the career win list. He would trail only Lenny Wilkens (1,332) and Don Nelson (1,335).