Brad Jones is often reminded of the guy he’s replacing.
Jeff Hornacek’s jersey hangs from the rafters at EnergySolutions Arena.
"We didn’t call him Legend for nothing," Jones, the Utah Jazz’s newest assistant coach says. "I’m sure most Jazz fans, when they announced Brad Jones replacing Jeff Hornacek, were very let down."
The Jazz will be defined this year by new faces and redefined roles; that’s a maxim that holds true on coach Ty Corbin’s bench as well.
With Hornacek now running the show in Phoenix, the Jazz promoted Jones, a former D-League head coach who spent last season as a player development assistant with the Jazz. Meanwhile, former Ute Alex Jensen, a D-League Coach of the Year and former assistant at St. Louis under Rick Majerus, was hired for Jones’ old job.
"We’re just learning each other," Corbin said of his reshuffled bench.
With a young team, Corbin said his staff must be vigilant.
"We’re learning to understand where the team is and how we have to be energetic and push the guys," he said. "[We have to] notice everything and push everything right now, and not allow anything to slip through the cracks."
For Jones, the new job means increased scouting duties and taking a big-picture look at how to improve this inexperienced Jazz team.
"Last year, my main focus was to help each individual get better and get better within Coach Corbin’s system," Jones said. "I spent most of my time before and after practice, and the film I watched, figuring out how do we help them grow individually. This year, it’s about making the team better."
Jones, who coached the Austin Toros to the 2012 D-League title, knows he isn’t Hornacek. But he hopes his perspective on a staff heavy on ex-players will help.
"I’ll never be a player," he said. "I’ve always been a coach. That’s the one thing I do bring is I have been a head coach at different levels. I’ve also been an advanced scout; I’ve studied the NBA. I’ve been in the D-League. So at a certain level, I understand what Coach Corbin is going through."
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