No matter what happens, this Jazz season always will be significant for the milestones reached by Jerry Sloan, who won his 1,000th game as the team's coach in November and celebrated his 20th anniversary of taking over for Frank Layden a month later.
Now the longest tenured coach in major professional sports is set to return for a 22nd season. The Jazz announced Sunday that Sloan, 66, had agreed to a one-year contract extension through the 2009-10 season.
With as many as nine of the 15 players on the Jazz potentially becoming free agents after this season, Sloan made the decision to come back despite not knowing exactly what shape the team's roster will take.
Although Deron Williams will be in the first year of the contract extension he signed last summer, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur and Kyle Korver all can opt out of their contracts and become free agents. In addition, Paul Millsap will be a restricted free agent.
"I've just got to get through this year first," Sloan said. "That's the way I've always done it. We've had our ups and downs, but hopefully we can get some guys back and have a strong finish."
The extension also sets the stage for Sloan, the first coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games with a single team, to continue coaching past his 68th birthday on March 28, 2010.
"No more concern than if it's my 20th [birthday]," Sloan said. "It's a day-to-day thing anyway. I look at all the crazy things that have happened in this league and I've always considered myself fortunate."
Both Golden State's Don Nelson and Charlotte's Larry Brown are 68. Hubie Brown coached Memphis until he was 71, even winning the NBA's coach of the year award in 2004 before stepping down that November.
Sloan agreed to a one-year extension to return this season on Dec. 3, 2007. Last month, general manager Kevin O'Connor said another extension was imminent.
For his part, Sloan said he did not need more time this season than last to decide about returning. "I just put it in the drawer and forgot about it, so that was my fault," Sloan joked. "I talked about it but I didn't do anything about it."
Sloan, who was nominated this year for the Basketball Hall of Fame, would need to win 83 games over the next 1½ seasons to pass Pat Riley (1,195) for third on the NBA's all-time list of winningest coaches, trailing Lenny Wilkens and Nelson.