Sources said that Jazz officials intend to at least pose the question to the Hall of Fame guard about his willingness to move into coaching, while mindful of Stockton’s lack of previous coaching experience and the fact that he has long loathed the sort of spotlight associated with the job.
Earlier Tuesday, in a general interview with the Deseret News, Lindsey told the newspaper that the Jazz are “getting closer to moving to the part where we’ll reach out” to coaches Utah will consider to replace Tyrone Corbin, who was informed last month that he would not be receiving a new deal. Corbin coached the Jazz for the past three-plus seasons in the wake of Jerry Sloan’s sudden resignation in February 2011.
Sources say the Jazz are likely to sit down with a handful of potential candidates this week at the league’s annual pre-draft camp in Chicago as part of an introductory round of interviews. In April, Jazz team president Randy Rigby told 1280 AM in Utah that the team’s “exhaustive” search to find a successor to Corbin would eventually feature more than 20 candidates.
Since Corbin’s dismissal in April, San Antonio Spurs assistant and former University of Utah coach Jim Boylen has been widely mentioned as the leading candidate to take over, given his longstanding ties to Lindsey after they worked together in Houston and the fact that no less an authority than Spurs coach Gregg Popovich brought Boylen in as his top assistant this season to replace two top aides who got head-coaching jobs, Atlanta’s Mike Budenholzer and Philadelphia’s Brett Brown.
Other candidates who have been mentioned include Chicago Bulls assistant coach Adrian Griffin, current Jazz assistant Brad Jones, former Missouri coach and veteran NBA assistant Quin Snyder (who worked with Lindsey in San Antonio), and European coaching legend Ettore Messina. It was reported last month that the Jazz are regarded around the league as one of the few teams that would give bona fide consideration to breaking the NBA’s European barrier and hiring a head coach who wasn’t reared in the United States, with both Lindsey and Jazz assistant general manager Justin Zanik known to be Messina fans.
Yet in his visit with the Deseret News, Lindsey said “all the speculation is very premature” because the Jazz themselves “don’t know right now” who ranks as a top candidate.
In Stockton’s case, asking where he stands on coaching, if nothing else, is a natural due-diligence strategy for the Jazz, who already have employed Karl Malone as a development coach and welcomed Sloan back to the organization last season in an advisory capacity.
The assumption in coaching circles is that Stockton, who was fiercely private as a player and has remained so in retirement, would balk at the media demands on coaches as much as anything about the job. But Stockton also is seen in some corners as a coaching natural after spending 19 seasons, all with the Jazz, as a peerless coach on the floor who ranks No. 1 in league history with 15,806 career assists.
Utah’s eventual hire will be Lindsey’s first chance to install his own hand-picked choice after taking over for Kevin O’Connor as the lead Jazz decision-maker.