We've got some conflicting reports, but David James is an excellent reporter, and KUTV news is the #1 news team in Utah, so... I tend to think it's worth considering enough to post. The tweets tell the story:
Change in Jazz leadership coming up on 2 News at 10 and KMYU Talkin Sports.— David James (@DavidDJJames) May 1, 2013
@peter_j_novak Still consulting. Millers like and respect him, but Dennis Lindsey will responsible/ accountable going forward— David James (@DavidDJJames) May 1, 2013
Just asked Kevin O'Connor about KUTV report that he is stepping down: "Not true and I have no comment."— Bill Oram (@tribjazz) May 1, 2013
Update: Story has been posted on the KUTV website. Some choice quotes:
Insiders say the decision is driven by Kevin’s intensity. In August of 2009, his wife, Linda, told the Salt Lake Tribune, "When Kevin is watching an away game the dog gets a little scared sometimes. She runs upstairs and hides … For Kevin, it’s pretty much basketball all the time."
Kevin and his wife Linda sold their Utah home April 17th and sources close to them say they are preparing to relocate to the Carolina’s—where Kevin went to college and where they have been vacationing each summer.
Under this arrangement, Dennis Lindsey (pictured) becomes the head decision maker for the Utah Jazz.
Update 2: This morning, the Jazz are denying this report. Greg Miller tweeted this:
Sources very close to the Utah Jazz (me) verify that Kevin O'Connor is not stepping down as EVP of Basketball Operations.— Greg Miller (@GregInUtah) May 1, 2013
and Jazz President Randy Rigby released a statement:
Media reports of Kevin O’Connor’s departure are inaccurate and he is not stepping down. He is fully engaged in Jazz preparations for draft season. The working relationship between Kevin and Dennis Lindsey is unchanged as both individuals provide valuable expertise, knowledge and perspective toward building a championship-caliber team. Kevin will be a member of the Jazz family for a long time. No further comment is needed.
David James and KUTV have yet to comment, so it will be interesting to see if they stick by the story or backpedal. The Jazz have a history of wanting to release news on their terms, so this could be a "bad-timing" denial:
The Jazz refute everything at first. When @slcdunk reported a few years back that games would no longer be on KJZZ, they denied at first.— Kris (@5kl) May 1, 2013
Or it could be an inaccurate report, making David James into the new Lionel Bienvenu. That would be a bummer.
Update 3: Thanks to @Clintonite33, who relayed this on to me. The Jazz are sticking with the story that the "working relationship remains unchanged", however, David James is sticking with his side of the story as well, albeit with new verbiage. KUTV News has changed their post to indicated that Kevin O'Connor is "transitioning into a consulting role", but still lead with
Jazz’s vice president of basketball operations, Kevin O’ Connor, has been the primary voice and architect of jazz personnel moves for 14 years, but this summer he will give all those responsibilities to General Manager Dennis Lindsey.
In short, we're still in the dark as to who the decision maker is. The Jazz say KOC is the "working relationship is unchanged", but KUTV News says that he will no longer be the "primary voice and architect" with a timeframe of "this summer". I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Update 4: Okay! 1280 The Zone, the radio station owned by the Utah Jazz, had a chance to interview David James on the radio this afternoon, which played about 4 PM and was just uploaded to the 1280 site. It's about a 15 minute interview, and is extremely informative. Here's the link.
In particular, David James stands by 100% of his story, even after the Jazz denial.
He does, however, object to the use of the phrase "stepping down", which is the phrase I used to title this post. However, I did not invent this verbiage, "stepping down" was used as the title of the original KUTV article breaking the news. The term was also used in the original David James report on television. But, given that this term is apparently causing problems, I've changed the title of this post to reflect the fact that we're starting to get a better idea of what's going on.
*As a side note, though, I don't think "stepping down" is incredibly different than "decided to transition into a consulting role and move away". That being said, to be fair to the parties involved, I have changed the title to better reflect the situation.