Posts Tagged ‘David Locke’

Jazz’s O’Connor Steps Up, Not Quite Out

If Kevin O’Connor were giving up his general manager position with the Utah Jazz to accept a similar gig with some rival NBA franchise, to star in his own syndicated cooking show or simply to comb a beach for shells in an endless retirement, that front-office move in Salt Lake City truly would merit “Stop the presses! Extra, extra!” type of coverage. (OK, so few news outlets these days actually own presses and, of those who do, few would spend the cash to print an extra edition when they can simply update their Web site. But you get the point, you’ve seen the old B&W movies.)

As it turns out, this might not even be a dog-bites-man yawner. O’Connor indeed is giving up the GM job in Utah, as reported by Yahoo! Sports, the Salt Lake Tribune and others. But he is sticking around in an executive capacity that presumably will keep him involved with the Jazz’s big basketball decisions.

That’s quite different, more a lightening of O’Connor’s workload than an end to some era or a significant change in direction for the Jazz.

David Locke, the Jazz’s radio broadcaster, went so far as to suggest on Twitter that O’Connor, if looking outside the organization for someone to handle the day-to-day drudge work in his job, almost necessarily had to alter his own title. Few teams would allow their assistant GMs under contract to interview for a lateral move.

Even if it’s strictly a flow-chart thing, the usual suspects began to get mentioned as possible hires, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! wrote:

San Antonio Spurs assistant GM Dennis Lindsey has emerged as a strong candidate in the search, league sources told Y! Sports. Cleveland Cavaliers assistant GM David Griffin had talked to Utah, but is no longer under consideration, sources said.

Oklahoma City Thunder vice president and assistant GM Troy Weaver had been the No. 1 target for the search, but has decided to stay in Oklahoma City, sources said. The Philadelphia 76ers have shown strong interest in Weaver, but league sources said he’s made clear he plans to stay with the Thunder. Weaver previously worked under O’Connor in the Jazz front office before leaving for Oklahoma City.

Walt Perrin, Utah’s vice president of player personnel, was mentioned by Jazz beat guy Brian T. Smith as a potential internal candidate.

And One: Hope vs. Reality

*Not so fast. Having the Pacific Northwest jewel back in the league would be great, but reports that plans for a Seattle arena are gaining momentum may not mean much in NBA terms. At least not any time in the foreseeable future if the next Hornets owner is committed to staying in New Orleans, as David Stern desires, and not any time at all if the Kings get a building in Sacramento, as is possible. It’s still Sacramento’s game to lose.

*Pirating another city is OK now, right? Having it done to you makes Clay Bennett and Stern terrible people, but turning around and doing it to another market would be cause for celebration? Got it. Seattle may have cover since this would be more Sacramento losing the team than it being stolen away, but no one should be naïve. Seattle, or any interested locale, would be on the same hunt under different circumstances as well.

*Kevin Johnson, the Sacramento mayor and former All-Star point guard, was never naïve. A year ago, amid the rising possibility the Kings were bound for Anaheim, he privately put together a list of teams to steal and instal as tenant should his city overcome years of blundering to finalize a new arena. The Hornets, Hawks and Pistons (before being sold) were, he thought, vulnerable to be looted the same way Anaheim was making a vulture play. Now there is no need for a list, only a simple bottom line. Close an arena deal and the Kings stay. Don’t close an arena deal and there’s no NBA in town, for years and perhaps forever.

*Jazz radio man David Locke can try all he wants to turn Jeremy Lin into an ethnic issue, but comparing his journey with Ichiro is such a bad reach. The Mariners outfielder is from Japan, grew up in a different culture with different training methods and had a language barrier when he came to the United States. Lin, whose parents are from Taiwan, was born in Southern California, grew up in Northern California and attended college in Boston. He went undrafted and got cut by the Warriors and Rockets as basketball decisions, not because he didn’t look the part. (Because an athlete with an Asian background clearly would never be embraced in Oakland/San Francisco or Houston.) Sometimes front-office calls, however wrong they seem in this moment of triumph for a class act like Lin, are just front-office calls.

*Never have the defensive talents of Kentucky shot blocker Anthony Davis, the leader to become the No. 1 pick in June, been better illuminated than through the quotes from opponents and Wildcats coach John Calipari in the profile this week by Chris Dortch. “What you have to do to get to the basket against that guy is almost impossible,” Louisville guard Chris Smith said. And: “I went down there one time, and he just told his guys, ‘Just bring him in here, I’m going to block everything,’ ” Arkansas guard Mardracus Wade said. And: “The best shot blockers I have seen are the ones that let people release the ball and then go get it, and that’s what he does,” Calipari said. “Marcus Camby, when I had him (at UMass), that’s exactly what he did; he never blocked it in the guy’s hand, he just stayed down and waited for him to release it.” Great stuff.

*All indications are the Lakers will retire the No. 34 of Shaquille O’Neal next season. The brief delay, as opposed to doing it in 2011-12, is due to the rush of the schedule after the lockout, not any doubt it will happen. The tribute has been an automatic for years, no matter how many wrongly guessed the bad breakup in 2004 might cost Shaq a spot on the Staples Center wall.

*Gisele Bundchen says keep scrolling. I cannot write the story and read the story at the same time.

*If the Warriors looked around for big deals that included Monta Ellis before the season when they rated themselves a playoff team, imagine the internal conversations now that they’re 8-14 and coach Mark Jackson has stayed more than once with the reserves over Ellis and Stephen Curry in the fourth quarter of close games. Curry is more prized around the league, and Golden State reportedly was insistent on keeping him while dangling Ellis in Chris Paul scenarios with the Hornets. The more the losses add up, the more anything is possible.

*Kris Joseph of Syracuse and Andrew Nicholson of St. Bonaventure should have been included in the Tuesday story on the rise of draft prospects from Canada. Both are seniors and have solid chances to be picked. Also, the Canadian at Kentucky is Kyle Wiltjer. Greg Wiltjer is his father who played in the 1984 Olympics. My turnover.

*Don’t be surprised if the Clippers bid to re-sign Chauncey Billups in July even with questions likely to still be surrounding his comeback from a season-ending Achilles’ tear. The intangibles as a leader with championship experience are that meaningful, not to mention a friendship with Paul that pre-dates their arrivals in Los Angeles. As people in Denver and Detroit know best of all, and the Clips quickly learned themselves, Billups makes a valuable contribution apart from the basketball itself. It’s just a matter of agreeing on how much that presence is worth coming off a serious leg injury and turning 36 as training camp opens.

*What’s the big deal about Steve Nash at an All-Star level as he passes his 38th birthday? Great players are supposed to do that in their prime. If he’s still that good in 2024 as retirement approaches, then it will be noteworthy.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 44)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Kenny Smith and NBA All-Star Weekend usually mean two things: world-class parties and basketball to match.

So when we went searching for the right person to get us pumped up for the 60th All-Star Game we automatically turned to “The Jet.” (And yes, we hit him up for our VIP invitations to his annual All-Star Weekend bash, which has turned into the best party of the entire affair.)

The TNT analyst, NBA champion and Emmy winner headlines Episode 44 of the Hang Time Podcast, which not only looks ahead to a festive All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, but also takes a look back at one of the most memorable weeks of this season.

The most shocking move of the season, to date, happened in Salt Lake City last week when longtime Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan resigned abruptly after 23 years on the job. Sloan left behind more than just a Hall of Fame legacy and thousands of puzzled Jazz fans. He left tons of unanswered questions for those of us wondering what could lead one the league’s most notable tough guys to hang it up in such an astonishing way.

Jazz play-by-play announcer David Locke, who also hosts Locked On Sports on 1320 K-Fan, joined us to clear up any misconceptions about exactly what went on with Sloan and Jazz All-Star point guard Deron Williams, as well as giving us an idea about what we can expect from new Jazz coach Ty Corbin.

We’ve everything you need right here in Episode 44, which also includes All-Star Weekend predictions from the Hang Time Podcast crew:

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Sekou Smith of NBA.com, as well as our super producer Micah Hart of NBA.com’s All Ball Blog.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here.

Perception V. Reality In Utah

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Nearly every theory about Jerry Sloan‘s abrupt departure as coach of the Utah Jazz centers on the same fractured relationship, the one between Sloan and All-Star point guard Deron Williams.

The general theme being Sloan had grown tired of his repeated clashes with Williams and finally, after one too many, the longest-tenured coach in any of the major professional sports had simply had enough.

Williams, as you might imagine, has become the popular fall guy in this story. Here we have another young superstar running off the beloved old coach … except Williams isn’t accepting that role without a fight.

He denied going to Jazz management and giving them a “him-or-me” ultimatum about Sloan.

“That’s not true. Not true. I would never force coach Sloan out of Utah, he’s meant more to this town, to this organization than I have, by far,” Williams told my main man David Locke in an exclusive interview on KFAN 1320 AM late Thursday, after Sloan had already said his public goodbyes. “[It’s] not my place. If that was the case, I would just say I wanted out before it would come to that.”

Williams dismissed media reports (and certain media members) for cooking up stories about a perceived rift between him and Sloan, the only NBA coach he’s ever played for until he takes to the floor today for Ty Corbin. The reality, Williams insists, is that he and Sloan didn’t bicker any more or less than most coaches and stars. And while their relationship was far from warm and fuzzy all the time, they were not at each others’ throats on a regular basis either.

And this notion that a blow up between he and Sloan precipitated Thursday’s resignation, is not going fly with Williams:

“We just had a disagreement. We’ve had them before, we’ve had worse ones,” Williams said. “I’ve seen him have worse ones with other players.  Jerry is very fiery, I guess that’s the word to use. I am too. Sometimes we clash on things … It’s been pretty much the same, we get along a lot, we disagree sometimes, but we both want to win. It has been a frustrating year. We felt we were supposed to be a little better than we have been. I’ve been lucky. Not many people get to come into the league and play for a Hall of Fame coach for the first six years. Chance to learn from one of the best. I’ve won a lot of basketball games because of Coach Sloan.”

Folks will choose to believe whatever they want. And you can be sure that Williams, despite his denials to the contrary, will own the title of the man who ran off a coaching legend for the foreseeable future.

The perception of Sloan v. Williams is much more intriguing than whatever the reality of their situation really was. Unfortunately, we’ll probably never know the whole truth.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO WILLIAMS’ INTERVIEW WITH KFAN 1320 AM!