The Jazz have created a new position overseeing the team’s medical and sports science initiatives, hiring Mike Elliott from the Phoenix Suns to do the job.
As vice president of performance health care, Elliott will preside over all training, strength and conditioning while trying to help the Jazz gain a needed edge in pioneering fields of sports science. He held a similar role for the last two years for the Suns, which is reputed to have one of the best sports performance staffs in the NBA.
It’s an area in which Utah is looking for more luck: While the Jazz have gained a reputation for player development for helping mold stars like Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert, injuries have given the franchise numerous setbacks. Last season, Utah dealt with a frustrating pile-up of injury-related absences, including stints from Hayward, George Hill, Derrick Favors, Rodney Hood, Alec Burks and others.
Along with practice facility renovations that are expected to help the Jazz stay on the cutting edge of medical and training science, Elliott’s hiring represents a changing of the guard in personnel. Head athletic trainer Brian Zettler resigned earlier this year to pursue other opportunities, the Jazz confirmed, and his replacement (who will serve under Elliott) is yet to be hired.
Elliott worked for the Suns organization for 14 seasons, holding roles both as an athletic trainer and a strength and conditioning coach. He was named the NBA strength and conditioning coach of the year after the 2013-14 season. He also took an interest in nutrition while in Phoenix, transitioning the team’s diet to organic foods.