Sep 30, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz players from left to right forward/center Derrick Favors , guard Alec Burks (10) , forward Gordon Hayward (20), center Enes Kanter (0) and guard Trey Burke (3) pose for a photo at Zions Bank Basketball Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Utah Jazz: The Search to Hire a New Head Coach

It has been over three weeks since the Jazz told Corbin they were going in a different direction. Since that time there has been a lot of speculation about who will be the next coach. Since that time, speculation is about all there has been. The Jazz have not announced a list of interviews, or even said a lot about their coaching search. Now, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to Jazz fans as the Jazz are notorious for being tight-lipped. Reading posts by fans on various articles I’ve found there is not a consensus about who the Jazz should hire, but that many fans are growing tired that a decision has not been made.

What I don’t understand in all of this is why are so many Jazz fans in a hurry to have the next coach named? Shouldn’t the argument be “take as much time as you need, just make the right choice?” Too often we get in a hurry and have to have immediate results and all too often when we make quick decisions they do not end up being the best option. Isn’t it more important that the Jazz hire someone who can not only come in and help a young team develop, but to once again build a winning culture that many Jazz fans have come to expect? I would rather Lindsey take an extra day, week, or even month than, in a couple of years, have to go through this entire process again. The teams that have the most success in any sport are the teams that are able to identify and make the right hire. The teams that hire and fire coaches on a whim are the ones that never go anywhere near sustained success.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

It is also important to keep in mind that potential top candidates may still be in the playoffs. If this is the case then it makes sense to wait a few weeks before starting the interview process.

Why interview someone like Mike Longabardi early, then have to sit on it until a team like the Spurs is eliminated (or win the title) to be able to interview Jim Boylen? Now I know a lot of people just had their blood pressure rise a little when they read the name Jim Boylen. My initial reaction when I heard he is a potential candidate was “you mean the guy who was fired at Utah?” It made no sense to me and even if he was the best choice Lindsey would have a hard time selling Boylen to a state who knows him as a failure. However, the more I read and listen to national analysts talk about him the more my position softens. Isn’t it possible he is a great coach, but his coaching style is better suited for the NBA?

There is a debate about whether college coaches can be successful at the NBA level for a variety of reasons. Some have succeeded, some have failed. If coaching in the NBA and college are so different couldn’t the argument then be made that NBA coaches may not succeed at the college level (even Popovich had a 2-22 record one season while coaching at Parmona-Pitzer)? His coaching career at Utah does not look good, but Popovich obviously liked what he saw in his coaching potential to hire and name him lead assistant. An article by Kevin Arnovitz discusses potential NBA coaches and when describing Boylen states that one GM said “He’s been the best guy on almost every staff he’s ever been on.” Another source referenced in the article stated he failed at Utah because he hates to recruit. Now, I am not saying Boylen is the best option, but I am saying Utah needs to not simply scoff at the idea if for no other reason than who else is a better option?

What potential head coach out there does not have something on his resume that you can point to as a reason he should not be hired? John Stockton is the newest rumor, he has never had any coaching experience and hates, and I mean HATES dealing with the media. How is he going to handle that as a head coach and constantly dealing with the media? Ettore Messina is a legend in Europe, but how well does his style translate to the NBA? Steve Kerr has never been a coach before and runs the triangle offense, which you could question whether that works with the current Jazz roster. Lionel Hollins was successful with the Grizzlies, but the fact he was fired despite being successful throws up a major red flag for me.

Coaches simply aren’t fired for success unless there is an underlying reason. George Karl is 63 years old and I believe would demand a lot of power if he were to accept a coaching job. Alex Jensen and Brad Jones have been mentioned are inside replacements, but neither has much coaching experience, much less at the NBA level. Jeff Van Gundy would require a large salary and potential power (Stan was just hired as the Pistons coach and was given the job and the title of president of basketball operations). Frank Hoiberg and Kevin Ollie have excelled in college, but again does college success translate to the NBA? Quin Snyder was the head coach at Missouri for several years. His tenure started out successful, but ended with losing records and investigations (do Jazz fans accept Snyder even though he decimated Missouri, perhaps even more than Boylen and Utah or is it okay because it wasn’t a local team?). Other candidates that have been named are Mike Longabardi (one of my personal favorites), Adrian Griffin, and Andy Greer. All are all excellent assistants but have never been a head coach in the NBA, which simply makes them unknown.

The bottom line is there are no coaches available that are perfect candidates. In fact, you could argue the current crop of potential coaches is even weak considering the number of coaches hired last season. Over the past 20 years there is an average 6.75 coaching changes  each year. In 2013 there were 13 hired coaches. I don’t think it is a coincidence that when franchises have elongated runs of success they have great coaches (e.g. Popovich in the NBA, Belichick in the NFL). The Jazz need to make sure they have the right man in place or else all the potential we have heard about will never be realized. The Clippers had talented rosters for years, but for years kept finding themselves at the top of the draft (until they traded for Chris Paul). Coaching matters.

This is perhaps the most important off-season in the history of the Jazz. They are interviewing for a new head coach for the first time since they came to Utah,  the potential to land a potential franchise player in the draft (or at very least a very good player), they have 3 picks in the top 35 picks in a very deep draft, and have a large amount of cap space. The first step is hiring a new head coach and I love the fact Dennis Lindsey is taking the time he needs to make sure he has the best criteria in hiring a new coach. Having the best criteria only increases his chances of making the right decision. Take all the time you need Mr. Lindsey, just sure it is the right decision.

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Tags: Head Coach Search NBA Offseason Potential Candidates Utah Jazz

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