Utah Jazz Options for Head Coach

Photo: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Fans have been using Ty as the scapegoat for all Jazz related issues.  All indications now show that Coach Corbin is headed out the door at the end of the season.  We are so used to a hall-of-fame coach that we have set close to unreachable standards, as far as a coach goes.  If Corbin is gone, the next coach will have to be someone that will be around for a long time and lead this team to greatness again.   Who is that guy?  Let’s look at some candidates.

Photo: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Photo: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

George Karl

Karl is a favorite candidate for many Jazz fans, including myself.  This guy has always been a winner.  You can tell by looking at his career 1,131 – 756 record, which is a 59.9% career win percentage.  That is only 0.04% better than Jerry Sloan’s career record.  Last season he led a starless Denver team to a 57-25, which was good for the third seed in the West.  That team had the fifth best offense and 11th best defense in the NBA.  At the end of the year he won the Coach of the Year award, and for some inexplicable reason was fired.

Taking advantage of the altitude, which only Utah and Denver have, Karl made his team run.  Look at his teams rank in pace of play over his time in Denver:


Jazz fans would love to see our young guys run.  Denver and Utah have the altitude to make that a huge advantage.  Look at Karl’s last year in Denver.  They only lost 3 games at home all year.  They used their youth and altitude as a huge advantage.

Karl is my favorite coach prospect for our team.  George would fit well with our youth.  He has shown to be a good developer of talent, he wins, he loves the mountains, and he is a family oriented guy.  The big issue is the money.  George is going to command a lot, and the Jazz have never been huge spenders.  If they decide they are willing to spend, Karl is the coach you go after.

Photo: Rocky Widner/NBA/Getty Images

Lionel Hollins

Hollins is a very interesting coach.  Many Jazz fans think he would be a great coach because of his philosophy.  He preaches one concept, and that is defense.  We have heard Dennis Lindsey say that he wants an elite defensive team.  Hollin has delivered that as he has had a top 10 defense every year he has coached. That defense has led to a record of 214-201 over his career.

Last year his team went to the Western conference finals, where they battled and eventually lost to the Spurs.  At the end of the year Memphis announced that they would not be renewing his contract, which came as a shock to many.  Here he was as a candidate for coach of the year, and he was fired.  The reason he was let go was his stubbornness of accepting analytics, which was the direction that Memphis wanted to go.  When Memphis shipped off Rudy Gay to Toronto, they got very few pieces back that would contribute (Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye).  The front office believe that by simply getting rid of an inefficient player, they would get better.  Lionel was very upset about this trade and in the end, this seems to be why management went in a different direct.

Hollins is a good coach if you want an elite defense.  I believe that his stubbornness is something that Dennis Lindsey doesn’t want to deal with, being a stats guy himself.  I would be happy if Hollins was the next coach of the Utah Jazz, but I don’t think this will happen.

Photo: Nike.com
Photo: Nike.com

Ettore Messina

Chris Mannix from Sports Illustrated threw Ettore’s name out the other day during an interview on 1280 radio.  Ettore is a coach that most of us have never heard of, but could be the best fit out there.  Messina was born in Italy, and began coaching in the Italian basketball league.  He coached in Italy for 8 years and was a four time Italian League Champion, seven time Italian Cup Champion, a two time Euroleague Champion, and coached the Italian to and Olympic Silver medal. From there he went to coach CSKA Moscow for four years.  While with CSKA he won Eurolegue Coach of the Year twice.  He was the Russian League Champion every year he coached this team, and was the Euroleague Champion twice.  In 2011 he was hired as a consultant to the Lakers, but decided to leave because he wanted to coach again.  He is currently coaching CSKA Moscow again, and won the Russian League Championship last year.

At 54 years old, he is much younger than Karl(62) and Hollins(60), and has a long list of coaching achievements already. Messina is only three years older than Corbin, but has much more experience.  He is someone that Spurs have been watching closely, which means Dennis Lindsey is very familiar with him.  He is clearly the best coach in Europe.  The question is do teams trust him enough to hand him the keys to the team?  I think Ettore is the most likely candidate if the Jazz are to hire from outside organization.  He is someone who wants to coach in the NBA, and is young enough to grow with the team.  He will take the time required to develop our players.

Photo:  Tom Smart and Ravell Call, Deseret News
Photo: Tom Smart and Ravell Call, Deseret News

Alex Jensen or Brad Jones

Both are currently assistant coaches on the Utah Jazz.  If Lindsey looks to promote one of the assistants, these are the two that will get the nod.

Alex, a former Utah Ute player, was recently added to the coaching staff.  He is very young, but has experience as a D-League head coach.  Jensen coach the Canton Charge from 2011-2013.  In 2013 he was named the D-League’s Coach of the Year.  Alex spends a lot of time working with the young bigs, and they have loved working with him.  Kanter in particular has begun to work out with Jensen as much as possible.  He has the trust of the players and would be a good internal candidate.

Jones took over for Hornacek when he left to coach the Suns.  Was the head coach of Lambuth University in Tennessee from 1995-2001.  From there Brad became the head coach of the Utah Flash in 2007.  At the end of his tenure with the Flash in 2010, he went to coach the Toros, Austin Toros.  In 2012 he led the Toros to a championship.  Brad like Alex is very young and has gained the trust of the young players.  You can often find Brad on the sideline reviewing plays with players while they rest.

If Jazz go internal, it is clear that one of these two would be the way to go.

Let me know what you think on Twitter.