Hornacek back working with Utah
Jeff Hornacek looked at the Jazz players as they warmed up for practice Thursday morning and laughed.
Entering his fourth year as a special assistant on coach Jerry Sloan's staff, Hornacek serves mostly as a part-time shooting instructor for players who come to him for help.
Andrei Kirilenko has been a pet project since Hornacek started working for the Jazz, but his duties aren't limited to the veteran forward.
Last season, Hornacek's other primary students included Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver.
Neither are still with Utah, of course, and that's why Hornacek was amused as he watched the Jazz players get ready for another set of two-a-day practices.
"â¦ All my guys are gone," he said. "I need some new guys to fill the time."
Once again, Hornacek is working extensively with Kirilenko. But the young players in camp Gordon Hayward, Jeremy Evans, Ryan Thompson and Demetris Nichols have also sought his help.
"It's a little tough in training camp because they get their shooting in, but they also have to practice twice," Hornacek said. "Once we get out of two-a-days, we'll try to find time to really work with them. â¦ They are all hard workers. They all like to get their shots up. And they all shoot the ball pretty well. So it's exciting for me because it's not like you're trying to totally revamp a guy's shot. These guys can shoot it."
Hornacek's family situation is allowing him to get closer to the day when a full-time assistant coaching job somewhere in the NBA will be appealing.
Hornacek's oldest son has graduated from Notre Dame and is working in Salt Lake City.
Another son attends USC.
Hornacek's only child still living at home in Phoenix is his daughter, who is a junior in high school.
Raja Bell was a sought-after free agent last summer.
Two teams he strongly considered before signing with Utah were San Antonio and the Los Angeles Lakers.
All three teams have coaches who have been wildly successful and are considered old-school.
Bell's interest in playing for Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich or Sloan wasn't coincidental.
"Guys like that hang their hat on things that I try to hang my hat on," he said. "â¦ I like to play for guys who use me in the ways I like to be used, which is guarding people and doing whatever needs to be done to help a team win."
Sloan (1,190), Jackson (1,098) and Popovich (736) have combined for 3,024 regular-season victories in the NBA.
"I came up with the old-school players," Bell said. "I caught a lot of them at the tail-end of their careers and learned a lot from them. â¦ I learned to play like they played."
Although money was a factor in Bell's decision to pick the Jazz over the Spurs or Lakers, Sloan's presence didn't hurt.
"Having played for Jerry before, I know that all you have to do is bust your butt every night and be tough and play hard and he'll have respect for you," Bell said. "â¦ So [Utah] made sense for me."