NBA: Sloan keeps getting calls about coaching jobs
So much for riding off into the sunset.
Jerry Sloan's name continues to be connected with virtually every NBA job that opens more than two years after abruptly resigning as coach of the Utah Jazz.
The list of teams reaching out to Sloan last summer included Portland, Charlotte and Orlando.
Already this spring, Sloan says "a couple" of teams have called to gauge his interest in a possible return to coaching, including Milwaukee.
Although he hasn't pursued any of those jobs the 71-year-old Sloan consistently has excused himself from the running after preliminary discussions the fact he's at least listening doesn't surprise those who know him.
"He's an old pro, and he misses it," said Frank Layden, another former Jazz coach who remains a trusted friend. "It's just something that's in his blood. He has a passion for it. â¦ It's hard for him to be away from the game."
Like Sloan, Layden resigned during the season. He stepped down in 1988 but never considered a comeback.
"I never had the love for it like Jerry has," Layden said. "I walked away and was completely comfortable never had the urge to do it again. But Jerry loves everything about basketball. The games. The practices. The hard work. Everything."
In retrospect, the possibility of Sloan's return to coaching probably was inevitable.
In September of 2011 only seven months after he resigned Tammy Sloan told The Tribune her husband was "just fine" while spending time working on the family farm in southern Illinois.
"[But] when he's here in Utah," she said, "he's bored out of his mind. He walks and he works out, but he's still looking for enough things to keep him busy. â¦ I just don't see him staying retired. I can't see that happening."
Sloan's credentials, of course, are the kind that would catch the eye of any team looking for a new coach.
Elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, he ranks third among all head coaches for regular-season wins with 1,221.
The Jazz reached the Western Conference finals five times between 1992 and 1998 under Sloan. They advanced to the Finals twice but lost to Chicago.
"Jerry's a top guy for anybody that wants to win," veteran player agent Keith Glass said.
Interestingly, Glass recently went to work for Sloan.
When the Bucks called to gauge his interest in the their job, Sloan asked Glass to set up the meeting. It's the first time Sloan ever used an agent, although Glass thinks of himself more as a consultant.
"Everything with Jerry is so different," Glass said. "He's such a different breed of cat, and that makes it a unique situation."
With Milwaukee, Glass simply called the Bucks and orchestrated the meeting in McLeansboro. He did not attend, but he insists calling Sloan a "candidate" for the job was an overstatement.
"They all had a good talk and great time, from what I was told," Glass said. "But the next thing you know, Jerry's in USA Today as a 'candidate.' He was never a candidate. They just sat and talked. It's just that, in this day and age, things get out of whack so fast."
Sloan has not spoken to the media since confirming the fact he had talked to the Bucks. Glass seems to have inherited the job.
"Jerry is concerned because his name keeps popping up all over the place â¦ and that's not his style," Glass said. "He's being characterized as a candidate for all these jobs, but he's not. He has never applied."
Asked if he thought Sloan was "willing and able" to coach again, Glass did not hesitate.
"Well, Jerry is clearly able," he said. "Willing? I would say definitely, in the right situation. If a team could compete and if the team was going about things the right way, that would interest Jerry.
"What's important for people to know, especially people in Utah, is Jerry has not been pursuing these jobs. He hasn't been marketing himself. People come to him and they talk."
If Sloan does not take another coaching job, there might be another way for him to stay connected to the NBA perhaps in an official or unofficial position with the Jazz.
Sloan finally started to attend games last season and has been at the predraft camp in Chicago this week with coach Tyrone Corbin and other members of the staff.
"If there's something out there that's right for both parties, we would welcome a relationship with Jerry," team president Randy Rigby said. "The Utah Jazz have great love and respect for him."
Oddly, the biggest hurdle to Sloan's return to a consultant-type job with Utah likely would be Sloan.
Rigby knows the ex-coach never would do anything that could be construed as undermining Corbin or other staff members.
"When we talked about getting him seats to the games, he was very sensitive about where they were located," Rigby said. "He didn't want to be too close to the floor. He did not want to portray to Tyrone that he was interfering. That speaks volumes about Jerry Sloan, that he's sensitive to something like that."
So what's the bottom line for Sloan?
Twenty-five months after leaving the Jazz, it's clear he remains on the radar of NBA teams in need of a coach. The question seems to be whether Sloan can find one which gives him a chance to win relatively quickly a stated prerequisite because it's unlikely he will coach more than three or four years. Layden, for one, believes Sloan deserves one more chance to win the championship that eluded him in Utah.
"Jerry's just like Phil Jackson, Pat Riley and [Gregg] Popovich," Layden said. "He knows how to win."
Jerry Sloan file
• After 23 seasons, Jerry Sloan resigned as coach of the Jazz on Feb. 10, 2011.
• Sloan ranks third on the NBA's all-time list for coaching victories with 1,221.
• In 2009, Sloan was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
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