Utah Jazz: Gentry, Griffin may be at top of team's coaching list

Published May 25, 2014 3:35 pm

NBA • Clippers assistant has offensive forte; Bulls assistant is a defensive expert.
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One has orchestrated fast-pace offenses that have run through opponents in the West. The other has helped organize one of the league's stingiest defenses.

Both have caught the eye of the Utah Jazz.

Los Angeles Clippers associate head coach Alvin Gentry and Chicago Bulls assistant coach Adrian Griffin have both garnered serious interest from the Jazz's front office, according to multiple reports, as the team continues its search for Ty Corbin's replacement.

Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey keeps his short list of candidates close to the vest. He's also not about to hurry a decision, even if Golden State and Detroit have already filled coaching vacancies and a half dozen other teams are still combing for coaches.

"We're not going to talk about who and what and when and where," Lindsey said. "But we're very comfortable with the level of coach that's out there, people with good character that supports what they do. I think we'll come up with a good coach."

So far, Gentry and Griffin seem to have the inside track.

The two assistant coaches seem to offer vastly differing styles.

But both men have their supporters — and interest from other teams.

The 59-year-old Gentry has already been a head coach, with stops in Miami, Detroit, Los Angeles and Phoenix. Doc Rivers' lead assistant in L.A. this year, Gentry has been linked to the opening in Cleveland as well.

While Lindsey and the Jazz have preached the need for defense over the past year, Gentry's calling card has been offense. In 2009-10, Gentry helped lead the Suns to the Western Conference finals, behind a league-best offense that produced better than 110 points per game. With All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin at his disposal last season under Rivers in L.A., Gentry organized the Clippers' fourth-ranked offense.

Jazz leaders will have plenty to evaluate Gentry's qualities upon. He's been a head coach for more than 700 games in the NBA, compiling a record of 335-370 over 12 seasons.

Griffin, meanwhile, has no head coaching experience.

But the former NBA journeyman has been touted as a future bench boss since retiring from playing in 2009. He's coached in Milwaukee under Scott Skiles and in Chicago under Tom Thibodeau. In 2012, he interviewed for the Trail Blazers job that eventually went to Terry Stotts. Last year, he was a finalist in Philadelphia.

In Chicago, Jazz point guard John Lucas III watched Griffin work tirelessly.

"He was constantly at the practice gym late at night, watching film. He really studies the game," Lucas said. "He's really about the game of basketball. He knows what it takes to win. I think guys will buy into his system."

"We're a young team," Lucas added. "We've got to get a teacher, and Adrian can definitely teach the game."

Like his boss, the former Coach of the Year winner Thibodeau, Griffin understands his players' strengths and weaknesses, Lucas said, and knows how to put them in position to succeed. Lucas pointed to the success journeymen Nate Robinson and D.J. Augustin had during recent stops in Chicago.

"With Adrian, everybody knows their role," Lucas said. "Everybody knows what they're there to do. Nobody was trying to do something they weren't supposed to do."

afalk@sltrib.com