KOC steps down, Dennis Lindsey steps up - The Downbeat - #811

The big news of today is that Kevin O'Connor, esteemed VP of Basketball Operations/General Manager, will be removing the bit about GM from the job title and giving those duties to current Spurs assistant GM Dennis Lindsey.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune's article on the change, KOC "will still guide Utah's basketball operations" but we'll know more about the change once the press conference occurs, scheduled for 10 AM today. O'Connor was beginning to near retirement age, and the Jazz had been looking to modernize and expand their front office. Indeed, according to BTS:

A league source with ties to O’Connor told The Tribune the move makes "perfect sense." By removing himself from the day-to-day grind of being a GM — dealing with agents, travel, nonstop phone calls and endless rumors — O’Connor should be able to streamline his responsibilities and provide the Jazz with sharper leadership.

KOC will still be importantly involved in the running of the team, just probably not doing menial tasks like arguing with Raja Bell's agent every day and evaluating the potential of late second round prospects (of course, evaluating the potential of late second-round prospects was what he did best, but regardless).

That's not to say the GM job isn't important, it very clearly is. But, as fans, it would be foolish to expect large-scale changes in the way or thinking behind the way the team is run.

We'll learn much more at 10 AM though, so let's hold off on too much speculation about the exact roles until then.

So, who is new Utah Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey? The best bio of him I've found online is this Baylor article from 2009, pretty impressively written by Jerry Hill, "Baylor Bear Insider".

The basic steps of Lindsey's career:

  1. Play Division 1 college basketball at Baylor, making the NCAA tournament once.
  2. Was an assistant for two years at a large high school in Texas (Southwest High in Fort Worth).
  3. Was an assistant at Pensacola Junior College.
  4. Hired by the Rockets to be a scout and the team's video coordinator. Why did they pick a Pensacola JC assistant? Well, Rockets GM at the time, Carroll Dawson, was a former Baylor player and coach. It's the people you know.
  5. Worked his way up the ladder. He was named the team’s "director of basketball development" in 1998, promoted to director of player personnel in 1999, then elevated to vice president of basketball operations/ player personnel in 2002. Why such a rapid rise? Dennis explains here:

    "Lucky for me, when I joined the Rockets as a scout and video coordinator, they weren't real heavy in management. There just weren't a lot of people," Lindsey said.

    "So I had a lot of opportunities, just because there was a lot of work to be done. That's when Carroll first took over and moved off the bench (as an assistant coach). There are always opportunities in work, so Carroll and I got to be very close. He's like a second father to me. And from there, I started branching into management."

    I kinda feel sorry for poor Jefferson Sweeney(video coordinator for the Jazz): his role of a video coordinator turns out to be a likely starting point for big NBA execs and coaches (Portland coach Kaleb Canales, Miami coach Eric Spoelstra, now Lindsey), but he hasn't moved up since 2005, at least. Oh well.

  6. Moved over to the San Antonio Spurs in 2007, to be their vice president and assistant GM. Since then, he's been named in many different GM searches, but has either not been chosen or pulled his name out of the search each time. Indeed, David Locke's NBA executive source (but not linking because it's a Sulia link) is "surprised he is leaving Texas".

And now he's here. It will be interesting to see how his story unfolds in Utah. As with point #1, we'll know much more at 10 AM tomorrow.

This has got me thinking about goals, stories, and getting there; especially as it relates to the NBA. It's no secret that many of us dream of jobs in basketball: we may dream of playing, coaching, managing, or even writing about the NBA.

But things happen that prevent us from realizing the true happiness that we expect. In the case of Shan Foster, he didn't make it to the NBA. That happens (and will be analyzed in go much detail so very soon). But in the case of Ross Siler, he found himself writing in a dying industry and chose to pursue a law school degree instead. In the case of Jerry Sloan, he found the enjoyment he found coaching was no longer worth dealing with the personalities intrinsically involved. In the case of Kevin O'Connor, he found the day-to-day grind of managing to be more work than he wanted.

Each of these last three men fought for something, achieved their goal, and then left it, feeling like they could best utilize their remaining time somehow else. What does that say about the dreams of us basketball fans, many of us on this site (definitely myself included), who think there would be nothing better than to attain those jobs? Is it worth making sacrifices to get there? Mark Cuban, prominently, says no, and advises people not to seek jobs in sports.

I don't know. I'm only 21, so I have a lot of time. But it's something worth considering.

This topic also come up this weekend at the SLCDunk - Utah Division dinner. Clark wrote about this yesterday, and we also owe him much for organizing and then paying for us starving bloggers to eat. For a while, we stood in City Creek in a nerdy Jazz circle, completely happy to keep enjoying remaining moments post-dinner together.

Somehow, we got on this topic, and Clark said how much it disappointed him when Rob Hennigan was appointed GM of the Orlando Magic, because Hennigan was only 30. As illogical as it sounds, this seemed to close off the dream of being an NBA GM to Clark, now that someone younger than him had achieved the title. The dream died.

But luckily, Clark made us all feel better when he started to impersonate what Amar would sound like as an old man. Which was incredibly hilarious, the kind of hilarious where nobody can really stop laughing, nor do they want to stop the unexpected moment of sheer happiness.

This point is reserved for something that kind of sheer happiness of laughter, but this comes in a completely schadenfreudian way.

You see, a while ago, Basketball Reference started it's ELO Player Rater. The ELO system is the traditional ranking system used in chess: basically, it's a way to rank different chess players with different win-loss records who have faced different levels of competition. Basketball Reference sets it up so that people go to their ELO rater page, and pick which player they feel was better out of two relatively evenly ranked players. That, in turn, affects a player's ranking. You can read more about their math here.

Anyway, here comes the great part: out of 542 ranked all-time players, Kobe Bryant stands, right now, at #433.

That's right below Shawn Bradley, and a full 16 points below Raymond Felton. 418 spots below LeBron James.

Have a great day, everybody.


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