Kevin O’Connor, the Utah Jazz’s fiery former general manager who stepped into a diminished role last summer, denied a television news report late Tuesday night that he is stepping away from the organization’s familial management team.
Asked if he was stepping down after 14 years as an executive with the organization, the 65-year-old O’Connor said, “Not true, and I have no comment.”
A report by Salt Lake City CBS affiliate KUTV Ch. 2 said O’Connor, the team’s executive vice president of basketball operations, would leave the Jazz this summer and hand all of his executive duties over to general manager Dennis Lindsey. According to “multiple people near the Jazz organization,” KUTV reported that O’Connor would move to South Carolina, where he has long had a home, and serve as a consultant.
A former executive in San Antonio and Houston, Lindsey replaced O’Connor in August in a coordinated succession plan. O’Connor remained the Jazz’s top executive, but stepped out of the spotlight that he had occupied since 1999, one year after the Jazz last appeared in the NBA Finals.
O’Connor oversaw the transition out of the heralded John Stockton and Karl Malone era, signed Carlos Boozer and drafted Deron Williams. In 2006-07, the Jazz reached the Western Conference finals before losing in five games to the eventual champion Spurs.
The Salt Lake Tribune confirmed the report that O’Connor sold his Holladay home on April 17, the same day the Jazz’s season ended with an 86-70 loss in Memphis.
The Jazz are 632-500 since O’Connor joined the organization, but in April missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons after accumulating a 43-39 record. The Jazz finished two games out of the playoffs behind the Los Angeles Lakers, who were swept in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs.
The organization is entering what promises to be the busiest offseason in franchise history, with as many as 10 roster spots to fill. Seven players, including franchise cornerstones Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, will be unrestricted free agents on July 1.
As the Jazz build around a young on-court group of Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favor and Enes Kanter, they may also be building around a younger, more analytics-driven front office, guided by Lindsey, who is in his early 40s.
O’Connor joined the Jazz after previously serving as director of player personnel for the Philadelphia 76ers. Prior to that, he served as a scout for the Jazz, the New Jersey Nets, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Los Angeles Clippers.
A native of Staten Island, N.Y., O’Connor also worked as an assistant coach at UCLA for six years, including in 1980 when the Larry Brown-led team reached the NCAA championship game. He also coached at Virginia Tech, the Virginia Military Institute and the University of Colorado.