Jazz plan no layoffs during initial stage of NBA lockout
The NBA laid off 114 employees last week. Detroit, Charlotte and the Los Angeles Lakers have altered or eliminated staff positions, and other teams are expected to do the same due to the effects of a lockout that is closing in on the three-week mark and has no end in sight.
The Utah Jazz are taking their own path, though. The team has not had any layoffs as a result of the league's work stoppage, and there are none planned.
Part of the reason is the organization's ties to the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, which controls the Jazz, Triple-A Salt Lake Bees and Miller Motorsports Park, among other business entities. Many LHM employees work for multiple enterprises and hold interrelated job titles. By avoiding layoffs, LHM can keep other sports-related businesses running at full force and be prepared for the 2011-12 NBA season once the league resumes operations.
The lockout is expected to last several months, though, and could wipe out the entire season. If the latter occurs, the Jazz might be forced to re-evaluate their no-layoff stance as the work stoppage drags on.
Utah did not resort to significant layoffs during the 1998-99 lockout, which produced a shortened 50-game season. Former Jazz coach Frank Layden said that he would not be surprised if Utah again avoids layoffs during the current lockout, and he praised LHM's grassroots approach and connection with its employees.
"The Miller family always really steps up. â¦ They're very classy and always run a first-class organization," said Layden, who coached the Jazz from 1981-88, and also served as the team's president and general manager.
Utah has not been completely immune from the initial effects of the lockout. The Jazz still do not have a full coaching staff the organization's three-man unit is a rarity in the NBA and have yet to formally replace lead assistant Phil Johnson since he resigned Feb. 10 along with former head coach Jerry Sloan.
Utah coach Tyrone Corbin has expressed interest in adding two new assistants, including a possible big-man coach. He has candidates in mind for fleshing out a staff that includes longtime assistant Scott Layden and first-year assistant Jeff Hornacek, a former shooting consultant. But more than five months have elapsed since Sloan and Johnson stepped down, and the Jazz still have a limited staff as the lockout stretches into its third week.
The organization has continued to scout players, though, and plans were in place for free agency before the work stoppage began July 1.
Representatives for league owners and players met Friday during an informal session, but an official bargaining meeting has not occurred since the lockout started.
Reporter Steve Luhm contributed to this story.