So much for the Utah Jazz’s reputation as a conservative franchise that disdains change.
Less than three weeks before the start of training camp, the Jazz have just experienced one of the busiest offseasons in their history, including major changes to the front office, coaching staff and roster.
“I’m excited to get going,” says coach Tyrone Corbin, “because we have so many new guys.”
Utah acquired Mo Williams and Marvin Williams via trades, signed veteran free agent Randy Foye, re-signed Jeremy Evans, signed second-round draft pick Kevin Murphy and picked up options on Jamaal Tinsley and DeMarre Carroll.
In the front office, Kevin O’Connor remains the executive vice president of basketball operations but, after 13 years, he handed over his general manager duties to Dennis Lindsey in August.
Days later, ex-director of player development Mike Sanders and former D-League coach Brad Jones joined Corbin’s staff as assistants, after longtime Jazz employee Scott Layden left.
What does it all mean?
Nobody knows until Corbin completes his first 82-game regular season as coach and holdovers like Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks continue to develop and blend with the newcomers.
For now, however, Lindsey and Corbin are satisfied Utah is well-positioned for another run to the playoffs, which would be its second straight, sixth in seven seasons and 26th in the last 30.
Like Corbin, Lindsey is “excited” about the start of camp.
“We have a rock-solid group of players who aren’t selfish,” he said. “But we’ll have to see how that translates” to possible success on the court.
“My hope,” Lindsey continued, “is this team comes together in an unselfish way and puts team goals first, no matter what Ty and our coaches decide in the way of roles and opportunities.”
According to Corbin, the personnel moves made this summer will increase competition for playing time, which can’t hurt.
“We’ve had a great opportunity to visit individually with the guys,” he said. “We talked about what we expect from them. They have to compete every time they step on the floor. Nobody will be given anything.”
Lindsey comes to Utah from San Antonio. He was the assistant general manager with the Spurs, who swept the Jazz aside in the playoffs last year.
For holdovers like Hayward, Favors, Kanter and Burks, Lindsey says, losing to the Spurs seems to have provided motivation during workouts at the P3 Peak Performance Project in Santa Barbara, Calif.
The Jazz have sent players to P3 during the offseason for years.
“What I’ve witnessed has been outstanding — a real commitment, not only to conditioning but skill improvement,” Lindsey said. “When you see the program up close, you understand why this team has had sustained success.”
From his experience with the Spurs, Lindsey knows the importance of a year-round commitment by players.
“I don’t think a great offseason guarantees success,” he said. “But I think you guarantee failure if you don’t have one.”
In his first month with the Jazz, Lindsey has also gotten to know Corbin. Together, they are now most responsible for Utah’s competitiveness.
“We’ve spent some time together,” Corbin said. “We built that relationship so we can get on the same page with what our ideas are. ...
“Some areas will stay the same, and we’ll make improvements in others. I think we’ve come to understand each other.”
Lindsey, meanwhile, has started putting his footprint on the Jazz. He has reviewed all aspects of the operation, though he doesn’t expect quick or drastic changes.
“Hopefully,” he said, “I can show this group I’m coming at this job with a pure heart. ... I want to develop relationships, understand the Jazz way and not get in the way of that. I want to complement areas that need it and, strategically, cultivate some new areas.”
In the next three weeks, Lindsey must finalize some pre-camp details.
Among them: a likely buyout of unhappy veteran Raja Bell and possible contract extensions talks for veterans Millsap and Jefferson.
Lindsey declined to discuss Bell’s situation, citing an agreement he reached with agent Herb Rudoy.
“Going forward, we’re keeping all conversations internal,” he said. “... The goal is to keep quiet until the appropriate decisions are made.”
Key offseason moves by the Jazz:
• Select Tennessee Tech guard Kevin Murphy with the No. 47 pick in the draft.
• Acquire veteran point guard Mo Williams from the Clippers as part of a four-team trade.
• Acquire small forward Marvin Williams from Atlanta in exchange for Devin Harris.
• Pick up the team’s option on point guard Jamaal Tinsley’s contract.
• Sign free-agent guard Randy Foye to a one-year contract worth $2.5 million.
• Sign forward Jeremy Evans to a three-year, $5.5 million contract.
• Pick up the team’s option on veteran guard-forward DeMarre Carroll.
• Kevin O’Connor steps down as general manager but remains executive vice president of basketball operations.
• Name San Antonio assistant general manager Dennis Lindsey as O’Connor’s replacement.
• Assistant coach Scott Layden leaves to replace Lindsey in San Antonio.
• Director of player development Mike Sanders is promoted to assistant coach.
• D-League coach Brad Jones named assistant and director of player development.