Jazz Coaching Vacancy -- A few Ideas . . .

"Well, you see Tyrone, I'm really not going to respect you ... so your team is going to get the screw job."

So, by now you have heard that long time Utah Jazz family member Scott Layden is going to the San Antonio Spurs to be their assistant GM. We've seen a lot of Scott. His father, Frank Layden, was the head coach before Jerry Sloan took over. And over the years Scott has worn many different hats for the Jazz.

  • 1981-82: talent scout / assistant coach
  • 1982-88: assistant coach
  • 1988-90: director of player personnel
  • 1992 - director of basketball operations
  • 1996 - VP of basketball operations

He then joined the New York Knicks in 1999, and nothing interesting happened. He re-joined the Jazz coaching staff a few years later. Scott has been around, and features as an important person in the talks that led up to drafting John Stockton and Karl Malone. I think it is fair to say that he's been pretty important to our team, and has been a really big part of our continuity. He was with the club when we weren't making the playoffs. And he was with the club through our ascent, decline, and now rebirth.

He's going to be missed for sure. But we have a hole that needs to be filled on the bench . . . so let's look at some ideas . . .

Assistant Coach Types:

There are many different types of assistant coaches available. Some are deposed head coaches. Some are guys who you promote from the system. Others are specialists. Still others are communicators. (I see you, Raja Bell) You can make a really long list with assistant coach archetypes . . . I didn't even get into the whole deal about former players . . .

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Types that I think our bench could benefit from:

  • A former Head Coach: Losing Scott means we're losing a guy who really knows the game. I'm not saying the other assistants we have don't know the game, but they haven't sat on the bench for as long as Scott has. Tyrone Corbin is still kinda new to this. Having a grey beard assistant can really help -- especially in terms of respect from refs. Over the years we've seen a number of former head coaches become great assistants, like Brian Hill, Maurice Cheeks, and so on. A veteran, former head coach could really help here. Jeff is new. Sidney is not. Mike is new. Ty is new. Getting someone with experience could be good.
  • A Strategy Specialist: I'm talking about an Xs and Os guy. I think we've all had worried about what our game plan in. The head coach isn't really supposed to make the game plan. Some of the best coaches in the league have not -- Jerry Sloan, after all, used Dick Motta's offense. Phil Jackson used Tex Winter's offense. Bringing in a strategy specialist to solidify up our bench and have that be his top duty would be great.
  • A Defensive Specialist: Even though we were pathetic from three last season, the reason why we were swept from the playoffs was because of defense. And all season long our defense was sub par. Corbin isn't really a defensive minded coach. None of the other guys on the bench are. We could really use a guy who understands the modern game and how to devise strategies to defend the modern day players.
  • An analytical guy: Apparently Dennis Lindsey is an analytical guy in the front office. That's good, we need that. But that's only a start. You need an analytical guy on the bench too, to help translate the information from the front office to the coaches and the decisions the coaches make. Think of this position to be like that important cable you need to somehow get your VCR to plug into your TV's HDMI port. Telling the coaches that "player y sucks at this, and is great at that" need to be translated into game play strategy.
  • A legit, god damn, dirty, mean, big-man Coach: Tyrone Corbin was a face up small forward. Jeff Hornacek was a combo guard. Both Sidney Lowe and Mike Sanders were also point guards (*Wiki says Sanders was a PG, but BBALL-REF says he was a G/F). None of them had to battle in the paint at the NBA level for their pay checks.

Of course, assistants have a lot of roles on a team, but out of those primary specialties some are more important than others . . . but every one of them is important. In a perfect world the Jazz would hire more than just the minimum number of coaches necessary. But the Jazz are cheap frugal.

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My Idea:

I do think that the Jazz SHOULD hire two coaches. One who is a strategist, and one who is a real bigman's coach. Scott, because he held a lot of hats, could ghost by as a number of things for us from the bench. Replacing him takes two guys for sure. (He was the Leslie Knope of our coaching staff) Also replacing him with two guys means that, heck, we can now re-focus Jeff Hornacek as a specialist coach for shooting -- and not a guy who has to spend late nights staying up trying to figure out when to schedule practices on road trips, and call ahead to make sure there is a gym for them and so forth.

Of course, adding two new guys may be hard because they may not be "Tyrone Corbin" hand picked guys. (We are running out of players he played with for the T-Wolves, after all) I think having the mentor could be good for him, as long as that mentor wasn't causing trouble (like being a legendary head coach in his own right). A Jay Triano (former head coach, Xs and Os guy), or P.J. Carlesimo (Xs and Os guy, been to playoffs before) would be good, nondescript fits if available. A guy like Mike Fratello would be great, but a little too high profile. (And he may not want to coach an NBA season anymore, he's the head coach of the Ukraine men's bball team though)

As for the second, bigman, coach -- why not Antoine Carr? He also fits the bill as being a former player. But if we're going to Carr -- why not Karl Malone? We're running out of "He was late for a meeting 20 years ago" type of legit excuses now that there's a vacancy and we have a lot of under-developed bigs on the team (who also are our future). Karl Malone is high profile / highly visible -- but he would be great at taking the pressure off of Ty in some cases as Karl would be the one who yells at the refs (and all the refs know and respect him). Malone is also a really good leader. Of course, he also wants to be a head coach someday. I'd rather hire guys who were happy with being assistants to SUPPORT Tyrone, not work to get better jobs (then again, Hornacek went on head coaching interviews this summer).

Regardless of who we pick, in terms of coaching archetypes, I think we should pick two.

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