Utah Jazz coaches prepare as though lockout will soon end
Sidney Lowe officially became a Jazz assistant coach early Thursday morning. But the basketball lifer has discreetly been holding the title for weeks.
Lowe has already been involved in several team-evaluation meetings with Utah coach Tyrone Corbin, and assistants Scott Layden and Jeff Hornacek. The foursome have relied upon video of the Jazz's frustrating 2010-11 season to break down everything from players and defensive philosophies to the pick-and-roll.
Corbin entered the offseason contemplating what he wanted the rebuilding Jazz to become. He knew that he wanted toughness and believed that Utah needed a new identity.
Now, the Jazz's coaches are using the NBA lockout as an extended study session, throwing a cluster of ideas against a wall and seeing what ultimately sticks.
Hornacek described the closed-door conferences as four coaches examining "different situations." A defensive set is considered, then a question is asked: "Can all of our guys get it?" It's a balance of simple basketball fundamentals with cutting-edge innovations, all in the hope of improving Utah's chances whenever the league opens its doors.
Not knowing who exactly will be on the Jazz's roster when the season starts forces some proposals to remain hypothetical.
But the knowledge that the lockout could end Monday, free agency could start in two weeks and an accelerated training camp might begin by the end of October has pushed Utah to embrace the unknown.
"We want to break down our defense," Lowe said. "What did we do last year? What's good for us? What's not good for us? Look at everything: What can we use?"
He added: "We're basketball coaches. That's what we love talking [about]. We could sit in there all night long."
The open conversation has already made a mark on Lowe, who was considering two other NBA jobs before he joined Corbin in Salt Lake City.
Where some teams would have hired a traditional lead assistant a longtime X's and O's guru or an up-and-coming defensive specialist Corbin opted for experience and all-around knowledge in making his first hire. He wants all three assistants to have equal say and power, and the Jazz will initially use a by-committee approach as they retool and refine a team that finished just 8-20 after coach Jerry Sloan and assistant Phil Johnson unexpectedly resigned.
"We want everybody to have a voice," Corbin said. "We want the players to respect what Jeff says [as] if I was saying it, or what Sidney says [as] if I was saying it. â¦ So the guys understand that these are the coaches and they're to be treated respectfully, because we're going to respect the players. And if we're saying something to you, we're trying to help you get better."
Even the obvious is up for grabs. What if Corbin gets a little heated and earns two technicals in one game?
"We're splitting it down the middle and we'll set the rotation at a later date as to if I get kicked out when I get kicked out," Corbin said.
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