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Ex-Jazz coach Jerry Sloan interested in a return to NBA

Published May 24, 2012 12:12 pm

NBA • Ex-Jazz coach has talked to Bobcats, is intrigued by Magic.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan is interested in a return to the NBA.

Sloan told The Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday that he has talked to Charlotte owner Michael Jordan about the Bobcats' job and could meet with him as early as this week.

Earlier in the day, Sloan told Fox Sports Florida that he would consider taking the job in Orlando, if it were ever offered. The Magic fired coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith on Monday.

Reached at his farm outside McLeansboro, Ill., Sloan made it clear he would like to return to coaching after being away from basketball for 15 months.

Sloan resigned as coach of the Jazz in February of 2011, citing fatigue after 23 seasons.

Asked if he had talked to any team about a job opening, Sloan mentioned Jordan and the Bobcats, who finished 7-59 during the lockout-shortened season and then fired coach Paul Silas.

According to Sloan, undertaking such a massive rebuilding job would not prevent him from considering Charlotte.

"Obviously, you probably wouldn't win [a championship] right off the bat," he said. "But sometimes it's not all about starting on top."

If Sloan ever went to work for Jordan, Jazz fans would certainly see the irony.

Under Sloan, Utah reached the 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals. Both times, Sloan and Jazz were beaten in six games by Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

Asked about his reported interest in Orlando, Sloan said, "I'm sure a lot of people are interested. But I really don't know what the parameters are going to be or what's going on. I guess we'll wait and see what happens."

Orlando's situation is complicated, given the uncertain future of All-Star center Dwight Howard and the team's vacant general manager job.

Sloan knows the Magic "have a lot of different things to consider" while searching for their new coach.

Now 70, Sloan says he feels "terrific" and his health is "good," although that does not mean he is actively seeking a job.

"I just stay out of the way and see what happens," Sloan said. "If there's some interest in me, fine. If there's not, I understand that, too."

After the 2010-11 season ended — three months after he resigned in Utah — a handful of NBA teams approached Sloan about a return to coaching.

At that point, he was not interested. But by September, during an interview with The Tribune, Sloan hinted the situation might be changing.

"I don't think you can ever say, 'No,' " he said at the time. "But I'm not agonizing over it, that's for sure. I think I'll always be able to find something to do."

But Sloan's wife, Tammy, wasn't so sure.

"I just don't see him staying retired," she said. "I just can't see that happening."

Longtime friend Danny Brown, who lives in Illinois, agreed.

"If the right deal came along, maybe. He might do it again," Brown said.

Sloan, who was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, ranks third among coaches in regular-season wins with 1,221. He trails Don Nelson (1,335) and Lenny Wilkens (1,332).