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The Downbeat 1198: The Jazz's Pending Free Agent Coach Edition

In which we discuss the Jazz's first win, analyze the key adjustments made by Coach Corbin, and begin to start researching what the Jazz will do with their vacant coaching position next Summer.

Coach Tyrone Corbin coaches Utah to it's first win...does this mean he'll be re-signed next April?
Coach Tyrone Corbin coaches Utah to it's first win...does this mean he'll be re-signed next April?
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Jazz Fight Back to Earn 1st Dubya. Drama. A whole lot of drama. That is the Jazz 2013-14 so far, and despite waiting until November 13th to notch their first victory, this season has been drama filled so far. Since the Jazz are for most of us a simple form of entertainment to provide an escape from every day life, we all should be grateful for the amount of entertainment the Jazz have provided for us this year.

Let's recap just the last 48 hours should we:

  • On Monday night, the Jazz drop a very winnable home game to the Denver Nuggets, 100-81, with Richard Jefferson, John Lucas III and Jamaal Tinsley stinking up the joint. All hope is lost.
  • The next afternoon, Jamaal Tinsley is a no show for the Jazz's practice and it is later reported that he has been waived. While understanding the move, Jazz fans are sad for Jamaal.
  • On Tuesday evening Chicago plays host to the Champions Classic which showcases the likely top 3 picks in the 2014 NCAA draft. Jazz fans begin to cheer up as we get some awesome performances from Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle, to remind us why losing is so so good this year.
  • This morning, 25 year old PG Diante Garrett shows up in Utah, passes his physical and joins the team. Most of us are confused on why Garrett is the Jazz's best option available.
  • Despite the Jazz's longstanding rule about getting a practice in before playing, Garrett enters the game last night and actually performs fairly decently. By halftime John Lucas III is benched with Garrett earning many of the minutes Lucas was likely to get. We are all happy for a win.

While this season may not give us many happy on court basketball moments, I'd be surprised if we weren't treated to this type of drama filled entertainment all the way through April 2014.

Corbin's In Game Adjustments. Shortly before the start of the 2nd half last night, with the Jazz trailing the Pelicans 55-45, the Salt Lake Tribune's Kurt Kragthorpe tweeted out the following tidbit of info:

This made me laugh out loud, then it made me cry inside. How could an 0-8 team down by 10, not make any halftime adjustments? Why was there not more to say?

And then we were surprised again with this tweet from David Locke:

Finally!!! What we have all been waiting for, or at least what I've been waiting for. While Alec Burks has not been great this year he has been noticeably better than John Lucas III. So Coach Tyrone Corbin in his brief halftime huddle decided to make a switch and insert Burks into the 2nd half lineup as the starting PG.

Except he wasn't. I watched that 2nd half and other than initiating a play here or there, Burks primarily dribbled the ball up the court and then handed it off to Gordon Hayward to orchestrate the offense. If you don't believe me then go look at Hayward's 10 assists and try to argue with me that he was not the Jazz's 2nd half point guard.

The adjustments didn't end there though, perhaps the best place to look to see them all is the's game flow.

The other most obvious adjustment that Coach Tyrone Corbin made this game was to go small in the 2nd half. While Corbin had already gone to a 3 big man rotation this game (with Marvin playing the 3rd big role), he further adjusted to only play 1 true traditional big man after Favors exited early in the 3rd quarter with foul trouble. This move paid immediate dividends as the Jazz went on a decent run and pulled the game tight once again.

So what other adjustments did you guys see that helped earn the Jazz their first victory?

The Jazz's Free Agent Coaching Search. Since many Jazz fans are starting to look at potential players to draft next June or sign as free agents next July, it seems logical that we also start to look at the Jazz's most important vacancy this summer. As things sit now, and whether you are a fan of Coach Tyrone Corbin or not, the Jazz must conduct an offseason coaching search for its head coaching vacancy for the 2014-15 NBA season.

It could be that the Jazz decide to extend Coach Corbin during this season (doubtful), or it could be that the Jazz decide to offer Coach Corbin a new contract this summer (possible), but the seemingly most likely scenario is that the Jazz begin the 2014 offseason with its first task (yes, even before the draft) of selecting its next head coach.

This is completely new territory for the Utah Jazz. In the history of the Utah franchise every single coaching change has occurred in the middle of the season. This of course limits the potential pool of candidates to either someone on staff at the time of the replacement, or alternatively, someone that is out of work all together. For the first time our owner and general manager will have a full opportunity to kick the tires on some potential coaching hires outside of the organization.

While most fans would probably prefer a "name" coach like George Karl, Jeff Van Gundy or Lionel Hollins, the truth is that most of these guys are well out of the Jazz's typical coaching price range. Instead I think the most likely scenario is that the Jazz search out a young and hungry assistant NBA coach who is ready to take over the reins of his own team.

So let's hear it SLCDunker's, with a pending coaching vacancy to be filled in 2014, who are you hoping the Jazz hire?

My Dark Horse Jazz Coaching Hire: Mike Longabardi. At this point guessing what Dennis Lindsey is looking for in an NBA coach is a foolhardy endeavor. I've often been accused of being a fool, so I am going to go ahead and try. I think the main thing we know about Dennis Lindsey's plan right now is that he wants to build a defensive focused team like Chicago.

Enter Mike Longabardi.

Who is Mike Longabardi you ask? Well he has been in the news lately as an assistant on Jeff Hornacek's Suns staff. In fact Longabardi has been given full credit for that team's defensive turnaround. Earlier this week Zach Lowe wrote:

But the Suns have really shined on the other side [Defense], where they're fifth in points allowed per possession. Mike Longabardi, an assistant coach who worked under Tom Thibodeau in Boston, has Phoenix playing a standard Thibodeau system with shocking success. Everyone is following the rules, Bledsoe is a freaking menace, and opponents are shooting only about 40 percent on close-range shots when Channing Frye, Morris, or Miles Plumlee is near the rim, per SportVU. That's not quite Roy Hibbert–level intimidation, but Tyson Chandler–level work is a giant surprise for this frisky bunch. They're probably not a playoff team, and they certainly wish not to be, but they are way better than anyone anticipated.

While Eric Bledsoe has long been credited for his outstanding defense, the rest of the players mentioned above have no such reputation. The fact that Longabardi has been able to implement a successful system with no better than average defenders is more than a tad bit encouraging to me. But don't take my opinion as fact, instead read what recently traded Marcin Gortat has to say about Longabardi:

...But, I would say the big success on that team is actually Mike Longabardi, the assistant coach from the Boston Celtics. He’s the defensive coordinator. He’s just an incredible defensive coordinator. He gets his team ready for every game and I think the success of the team, a lot goes to him. He knows how to win the games.

For a guy that was recently shipped out of town and never played a regular season game for the Suns this year, that is pretty high praise.

Sure Longabardi Can Coach Defense, but Why Would he Choose Utah? If the Suns success continues (I'm not betting a lot on that) then Longabardi will no doubt have some potential NBA or college teams coming after him. Like most team decision makers, I think it is safe to assume that Dennis Lindsey would prefer someone with whom he knows and maybe has worked with before. Let's take a quick look at the now 40 year old Longabardi's NBA biography from a recent getting to know you piece on

"[Longabardi knows both sides of the game, but I think his defensive knowledge and what he did with Boston will, when we get into any discussions and talk about things, it's very helpful to have a guy who kind of specializes," Hornacek said.

Longabardi joins the Suns after six seasons as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics under Doc Rivers. His time in Boston included three appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals, two trips to the NBA Finals and the 2008 NBA title.

He coordinated one of the league's top defenses as the Celtics consistently ranked among the best in most major defensive categories.

Prior to landing in Boston, Longabardi spent four seasons as an assistant with the Houston Rockets working for current ABC/ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy. Houston is where Longabardi began his NBA career, first as an assistant video coordinator in 2003.

Top defenses...check...NBA playoff experience...check...NBA title....check...tutored under Doc Rivers, Tom Thibodeau and Jeff Van Gundy...oh nothing too spectacular, right?

Wait but what was that....assistant video coordinator with the Rockets? Where have I heard that before. Oh that is right, according to the Jazz's media guide, Dennis Lindsey originally joined the Rocket's as a video coordinator/scout in 1996. From the looks of it it appears that Longabardi was hired to replace Lindsey after he was promoted into Rockets upper management. You think these two might know a tad bit about each other?

Like most team decision makers, I think it is safe to assume Dennis Lindsey would prefer someone with whom he has worked with before, and Longabardi certainly checks that box.

As an added bonus, those of you who are regretting the Jazz not promoting Jeff Hornacek last year, will get the benefit of Longabardi tutoring under Hornacek this season in hopes that he can bring with him whatever offensive magic Hornacek is using on that current Suns team.