The Utah Jazz have ended the Tyrone Corbin era that began in February 2011. Corbin’s contract was not renewed heading into the 2014-15 season. The Jazz appeared in the postseason in 2012, but have since missed the playoffs in two consecutive seasons with a record of 68-96 over that span. Since that time, the Jazz have rounded their roster out with young talent such as Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke.
The vacancy at head coach will need to be filled with a figure who has proven himself capable of developing prospects and can guide the Jazz back to success. Several names on the coaching market include Stan Van Gundy, George Karl and Lawrence Frank. It was announced this week that the Jazz front office will interview over 20 candidates for the newly opened opportunity. Utah Jazz president Randy Rigby recently spoke about their plans for a signing:
“It will be an exhaustive search. We’ll be expeditious, though,” Rigby said Wednesday during an interview on The Zone Sports Network. “But we’ll be sensitive to taking the necessary time, so that we get it right and it will be the right selection for the Utah Jazz (via Jody Genessy of the Deseret News). ”
One of the possible candidates who may meet the criteria of what Utah is looking for is former Memphis Grizzlies head coach, Lionel Hollins. After reaching the 2013 Western Conference Finals last season, Hollins was fired despite his deep playoff run and complete turnaround of the Grizzlies. The franchise had three consecutive playoff appearances since 2010, and a 56-win season in his final year. Also, under Hollins’ tutelage, he was able to form one of the league’s most potent interior duos in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. With Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors manning the paint for the Jazz, Hollins could come in and utilize the two in a similar fashion.
Even point guard Mike Conley became one of the premier floor generals on both ends of the floor while playing for Hollins, as he averaged 13.6 points, 6.3 assists and two steals per game. This could definitely mean good news for Utah’s 2013 lottery selection, Trey Burke. With the young point guard looking to make the leap in his second year, he could use a gritty coach that knows what it takes for a young lead guard to come into his own. Hollins will be able to have Burke use his bigs offensively and set up their talented wingman in Gordon Hayward. Hayward will also be another player looking to improve his all-around game.
If Utah is looking to bring back the hard-nosed culture of basketball that they have been accustomed to, then looking at the Grizzlies’ brand of basketball could prove to be a tipping point on a possible Hollins hire. The Jazz have plenty of pieces that can become special with patience and hard work. Combined with the grind and grit that Lionel Hollins brings to the game of basketball, we could possibly be looking at one of the young, rising teams in the uber-competitive Western Conference. At the end of the day, it will all fall on the direction that the Jazz franchise wants to go in, but taking a look at Hollins’ resume would be a great start.