SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Utah Jazz front office is searching for a new coach after declining to offer Tyrone Corbin a new contract.
Corbin ends his stint with the Jazz with a 112-146 record.
He became the head coach on Feb. 10, 2011, following the resignation of Jerry Sloan, whom he had played three seasons for and for whom he was a longtime assistant.
Corbin guided the team to a winning record in two of his three full seasons and a playoff appearance in 2012 despite the departure of star point guard Deron Williams shortly after his promotion. But the Jazz were dismal this season, going 25-57 and missing out on the playoffs for the second straight season after jettisoning veterans and ushering in a youth movement.
It was the worst season by the Jazz since 1979-80, when Utah was 24-58 following the franchise’s relocation from New Orleans.
Still, it wasn’t easy to cut ties with a classy man who steered the franchise through the difficult stretch and who’s worked for the organization for more than a dozen years.
“Ty’s a man of dignity, class, integrity and we’ll do nothing now in this press conference or moving forward that will disparage him or his coaches in any way,” Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said. “Today, we’re grateful for a period that they saw us through and following Coach Sloan in many ways … is like following John Wooden.”
Lindsey said he doesn’t have a short list of preferred coaching candidates nor does he have a deadline for hiring Corbin’s replacement.
“We want to have a full platter in front of us,” Lindsey said. “We don’t want to define the search in any way. We want to take a step back and look at some internal criteria but we literally have not spent one minute on that because the decision on Ty and his staff was at the forefront. Again, that didn’t get decided until a little before 11 today.”
Corbin was informed of the decision two hours later.
Corbin was the seventh coach in franchise history. He served as an assistant under Sloan from 2004-11. He also played for nine teams during a 16-year NBA career, including three seasons with the Jazz from 1991-94.
Asked if there was room for Corbin to stick around the organization in some capacity, Lindsey said: “I don’t want to speak for Ty and understand his range of emotions, from disappointment to anger to everything in between, but (he’s) a good man who was a very good player, very good assistant that led us well through a tough three-plus years where there was significant change of personnel. So, I wouldn’t rule anything out just because he’s that high of character.
“And I’ll say this, as well: I think Ty is … going to be a better coach or is potentially going to be a better head coach for his experience and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him land on his feet to be a head coach and to do very well going forward. If that doesn’t happen and he were to want to come back in some fashion, I don’t think there’s anybody within the organization that would prevent that.”
Owner and CEO Greg Miller said in a statement that Corbin “has always represented the Jazz franchise in a first-class manner both on the court and in the community. He did a wonderful job of building relationships with the players and encouraged their growth throughout the season.”
After jettisoning veteran salaries last summer, the Jazz started 1-14 amid injury woes but improved as the season progressed. Point guard Trey Burke started the season on the bench with a broken finger, pressed through a shooting slump and ended with a season-high 32 points in the final game. He averaged 12.8 points and 5.7 assists.
Despite the losses, the team never splintered. Players pointed to Corbin’s positivity and the veteran influence of Marvin Williams and Richard Jefferson, who resurrected his career, shooting 41 percent from 3-point range and scoring 10.1 points after rarely playing at Golden State last year.
Utah only won four of the final 25 games, including the finale in double overtime against a disinterested Minnesota team.
A lottery pick, another first-round choice and sizeable salary cap flexibility will benefit the Jazz and Corbin’s successor this offseason. And there’s plenty of promise in Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors and Alec Burks. The two big men improved in all statistical areas and Burks became a go-to scorer and ended up as the second-leading scorer despite playing as a reserve most of the season.
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