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Coach Tyrone Corbin’s first two seasons were as unpredictable as the 2011 NBA labor negotiations. He took over Utah toward the end of the 2009-10 campaign, uncomfortably stepping in when Sloan stepped down. The Jazz proceeded to fall apart, completing a messy rupture that shadowed the conclusion of the D-Will era.
Last season was all about survival. Corbin never got the benefit of a full training camp because of the NBA lockout. But he also clashed with key players — Raja Bell, C.J. Miles, Harris, among others — failed at times in late-game situations and clearly was outcoached by San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich during the playoffs. Entering the final year of his contract — Utah holds a team option for 2013-14 — Corbin has management’s backing, but also has much to prove.
"He’s really coming into his own, as far as putting his own identity into the team," Jazz veteran point guard Earl Watson said. "When he took over, it was really hard, because everything was so unexpected. Like, no one seen that coming. … I see him being more comfortable every year, and that’s only natural."
With a larger coaching staff and the two-headed front-office leadership of Utah general manager Dennis Lindsey and executive vice president of basketball operations Kevin O’Connor, Corbin will have increased options and more decisions to make than ever before.
So will the Jazz. As interesting as the 2012-13 season will be, it’s just a setup for this summer, when Utah could posses some of the deepest pockets during free agency. Favors, Hayward, Burks and Kanter appear to be locks to stick around. Everything and anyone else are up for grabs.
For a franchise that’s never won an NBA championship, the long wait continues.
"As a team, you’re either selling hope or wins. And at some level, Kevin’s positioned us so that we can sell hope that our group, which is collectively a young group, is improving. I think we all feel that," Lindsey said. "We can also sell [wins], in that we unexpectedly made a jump.
"We don’t want to oversell and under-deliver. … I want to see the quality of the players, the cohesiveness of the group, the unselfishness of the group."
The road’s wide open for 2012-13. The era of uncertainty is about to begin.
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