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Kragthorpe: Raja Bell's gone, but Jazz can learn from him

Published July 9, 2012 1:48 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When problems surfaced with veteran guard Raja Bell in March, Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor responded to a question about the Jazz's buying out the remainder of Bell's contract by basically asking, "When have the Jazz ever done that?"

Well, they're doing it, as Bell told The Tribune's Brian T. Smith, and it is a healthy move for everybody. While it may have been possible to package Bell in a trade at some point, the best solution is to allow him to find another team and not have this situation linger through the summer.

Yet even if it is easy to write off Bell and view him as the one to blame, there's a lesson in all of this for coach Tyrone Corbin. Part of his development as a head coach is learning not to let issues fester, and to communicate better. Bell was not the only one saying so in May, after the Jazz quickly exited the playoffs.

"At times, he could be more open with players, kind of explaining what he's thinking and why he's trying certain things," point guard Devin Harris said.

Harris will be gone as well, once his trade to Atlanta for Marvin Williams is finalized, but his words should not be dismissed either. The irony is that former coach Jerry Sloan always was pictured as gruff and unyielding, yet Bell liked the way Sloan clearly got his message across and had a good dialogue with him.

That's apparently where Corbin can improve. Bell accused Corbin of being "unprofessional" by holding a grudge and not using him in the playoffs. O'Connor's reaction was pretty much a case of "consider the source."

But sometimes, such a source can provide useful information. Raja Bell did so, in his own way, and Corbin should listen to him in his absence.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com