Jazz's Sloan fought with Williams, lost team, sources say
Longtime Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and assistant Phil Johnson are expected to announce their resignation during a 3 p.m. press conference at the team practice facility, the Salt Lake Tribune has learned.
Sloan would not comment about his future with the team when reached by phone this morning. Sounding frustrated and upset, he said that he would answer questions during the press conference, though.
Calls left for general manager Kevin O'Connor, president Randy Rigby and owner Greg Miller have not been returned.
Utah assistant Tyrone Corbin is expected to be named interim head coach, sources said.
A meeting between key Jazz personnel was scheduled today to discuss a postgame incident Wednesday night involving Sloan and O'Connor. Utah players were then informed of Sloan and Johnson's departure this morning via telelphone, and of Corbin's promotion.
The 68-year-old Sloan was in his 23rd season as Utah's head coach. He recently signed an extension to remain with the Jazz through the 2011-12 campaign, but was not expected to make his decision official until after the 2010-11 season was complete.
Utah has struggled with consistency this season after starting 24-13 and pulling off a series of thrilling comeback victories. The Jazz have also been forced to deal with the offseason departures of Carlos Boozer, Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver, while center Mehmet Okur has been plagued by injuries.
The departure of Sloan and Johnson comes as a shock, and Sloan ranks third on the NBA all-time wins list.
However, Sloan has battled with All-Star guard Deron Williams all season, multiple sources said, and had lost the trust of the team. Williams and Sloan have had at least three altercations, while many players questioned Sloan's handling of everything from playing time and rotational decisions to his insistence on sticking with his revered offensive system.
Sources said there has been a growing feeling within the organization that Williams would leave Utah following the 2011-12 season if Sloan did not step down. One stated the divide as being as simple as "either Jerry goes or D-Will goes."
Brian T. Smith