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Utah Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin says everything is up for grabs

Published December 8, 2011 12:19 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Tyrone Corbin was as vague as possible.

Asked about the Jazz's starting five for the 2011-12 season, Utah's coach said he has no idea.

Asked whether he plans to make significant changes to the Jazz's offensive and defensive systems, Corbin said it's too early to tell.

Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson in the same first-rotation frontcourt? Maybe. C.J. Miles and Gordon Hayward holding down the starting shooting guard and small forward spots? We'll see. Derrick Favors cracking the lineup? Possibly.

Vague, vague, vague.

But then Corbin offered a clue. Seconds after discussing Favors' awesome potential, the second-year Jazz coach issued his most concrete statement Wednesday during a news conference at the team practice facility.

"[Favors] may come into camp and blow our minds away," Corbin said.

The words were buffered by a what-if? But they said everything about what Corbin wants from his young, unproven, rebuilding team.

Hard work. Sacrifice. Dedication. Desire.

Blown minds.

Answer those requirements for Corbin and anything is possible. Even suddenly promoting Favors, a still-developing 20-year-old who spent the majority of his rookie season buried in New Jersey, fighting off Carmelo Anthony trade rumors and finding his way in a new, foreign world.

"If he's the guy and that's the combination that gives us the best chance to get off to a good start, then we'll go there," Corbin said.

Which direction the Jazz go during a lockout-shortened 66-game season is a guessing game. Is it better than most predict, boosted by a favorable early schedule that sees Utah play 14 of its first 20 games at home? Or more of the 2010-11 same, with the Jazz starting strong then fading fast, shattered by a brutal February-March stretch that features 21 of 34 contests on the road?

To determine the hand he holds, Corbin plans to push Utah hard during an accelerated training period that starts Friday. His idea late last season of putting every position up for grabs still holds, and he wants to put eyes on every Jazz player wearing a uniform before making any decisions about who plays when and where.

"I want this team to be a hard-working, self-accountable group of guys that just go out and compete every minute that we're on the floor," Corbin said. "If we do that, everything else will take care of itself."

That means the questions will only build for a Utah team lacking everything from a captain to a true No. 1 go-to player during crunch time. What, if any, role will veterans Raja Bell and Mehmet Okur have? How will Favors, Millsap and Jefferson coexist? Will the Jazz shoot by committee from long range or give either Miles or Hayward free reign? Is it possible for high-jumper Jeremy Evans to even squeeze his way into the picture?

Post-Deron Williams, nothing is certain for the Jazz. For the next two weeks, that's just the way Corbin wants it. He's desperately seeking competition and commitment. Then let the cream rise.

"There's all kinds of scenarios that could come up," Corbin said. "Until we get on the floor and we get it worked out, I can't make a comment on it."

Notes

The Jazz are expected to soon hire Mike Sanders as a player development coach, The Salt Lake Tribune learned Wednesday. … Forward Trey Gilder is expected to be invited to camp, joining Paul Carter and Scottie Reynolds. … Jazz GM Kevin O'Connor said the team is not actively shopping Millsap and Jefferson. He called their agents last week, asking them to disregard rumors they're on the trade block. … Utah is open to using its mid-level exception to sign a free agent. … O'Connor said he had no contact with Portland about the Blazers' open GM job.

bsmith@sltrib.com