The Utah Jazz are going to miss Jeff Hornacek. Now I don’t want to overreact like this is the end of the world, but his presence is going to be missed. His instruction has helped several players such as Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Jeremy Evans, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors to mention a few. He is cool and calm and well respected. In my opinion, Hornacek is going to be a fine head coach. Will he have instant success with the Suns? He has a guaranteed 3 year deal for us to find out. I personally think he will be a better coach than Ty Corbin because of his background. I wrote extensively about this here: http://purpleandblues.com/2013/03/22/the-quest-for-hornacek/. His success as the head coach of the Suns will ultimately depend on what type of roster Phoenix gives him to work with. The players will always determine the success of a head coach because the NBA is a player driven league. Having said that, I am very happy for Jeff. He deserves this opportunity and I wish him all the success in the world. My only disappointment is that he’s not the head coach of the Jazz.
With Hornacek leaving, this obviously opens up a spot on the coaching staff. It seems like the most likely person to become Corbin’s top assistant is Brad Jones. He was Corbin’s 3rd assistant behind Sidney Lowe and Jeff Hornacek. He is young but has been coaching for a long time. If his name sounds familiar it’s because he was the one and only head coach of the Utah Flash. The Flash ran the Jazz offense so he is well versed in that area. Also if you haven’t heard this already, he is Jerry Sloan’s nephew. I also think there’s a good chance the Jazz don’t bring back Sidney Lowe which would mean there would be 2 slots to fill. Lowe was having some tax issues in North Carolina and from what I can tell he neglected to tell the Jazz about those issues before his hiring. Also worthy of note is that both Hornacek and Lowe were not with the Jazz coaches at the combine in Chicago. Now we know why Hornacek wasn’t there and we’ll probably find out soon with Lowe.
After the Jones promotion I would really like the Jazz to go after coaches that know how to teach a specific skill really well. Obviously I think Hornacek has a very good grasp on how to run an offense as a whole but he was a terrific shooting coach. The Jazz also need someone to be a big man coach. Here is a list of guys I think the Jazz should take a look at to fill those coaching vacancies:
Mark Eaton – Big Mark has been painfully missed since retiring from the Jazz 20 years ago. His defensive presence has been missed more than any Jazz fan, including myself, realized it would be. At 7’4″ Mark was a master shot blocker and shot alteration artist. He was no athletic specimen but he knew defense and was one of the best at his position. I think he could teach Favors and Kanter a thing or two about defending the hoop, getting the right angles, etc.
Patrick Ewing – Since Karl Malone has not proven to be a reliable coaching option, Patrick Ewing would be a big get for the Jazz if they could get him to come over. He has assistant coaching experience having coached with the Orlando Magic. He was a skilled low post scorer as a player and could help Favors and Kanter immensely with that aspect of their games. He wasn’t a shabby defensive player either.
Hakeem Olajuwan – Hakeem has been running a big man camp since 2006. Would he be interested in becoming a full time coach? If not, at the very least the Jazz should send Favors and Kanter there in addition to their offseason work at P1 in Santa Barbara.
Mike Dunleavy – Dunleavy has been out of coaching for the past 3 seasons. Prior to that however, he had been coaching for 20 years. He would bring a ton of experience to an inexperienced coaching staff and could take over as head coach in case the Corbin experiment does not work out.
Mark Price – I cannot think of a better guy to replace Hornacek than Mark Price. He was a sweet shooting point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers for 9 seasons. He has career averages of 47.2% from the field, 40.2% from 3 and 90.4% from the free throw line. He has high school head coaching experience and had a very short stint as the head coach of an Australian expansion team. He was the shooting coach for the Grizzles in 07-08 and the Atlanta Hawks from 08-10. He was hired to be the player development coach for the Magic in 2011. I think he would be the perfect fit to continue to help Hayward and Burks in their progress as outside shooters and to help Derrick Favors improve his free throw shooting. Also having been a point guard in the NBA from ’86-’98 he would be a big help for any young point guard the Jazz may draft this June. He could also really help Corbin to give this Jazz team an offensive identity.