Western Notes: Sloan, Phil, Nash

January 30 at 8:55pm CDT By Ryan Raroque

During Friday night’s game against Golden State, the Jazz will honor former head coach Jerry Sloan by raising a banner with the number “1223″ embroidered on it, which denotes the total number of wins (regular season and playoffs) he helped deliver to Utah over his coaching career. Kurt Kragthorpe of The Salt Lake Tribune caught up with former Jazz and current Nets guard Deron Williams to get his current thoughts on Sloan:

“A big part of my success early in my career was due to him and the things he kind of instilled in me…So I’m definitely happy for him, and it’s going to be a special moment. The fans there just love him to death.” Williams also elaborated on the halftime argument with Sloan several years ago which reportedly triggered the former coach’s resignation:

“We got into a little argument — nothing more than we’ve ever done…So the way the fans perceive it is just one thing I can’t really control. Like I said, there’s no hard feelings on my end, and I enjoyed playing for him. I miss playing for him.”

Here’s more out of the Western Conference tonight:

  • During an appearance on NBA TV, former Lakers coach Phil Jackson said that while he agreed with the decision to give Kobe Bryant a two-year extension, he also thinks the team “paid him more than I would have gone for” (Bill Oram of the OC Register via Twitter).
  • Oram also wrote about Steve Nash‘s return to practice today, noting that the former MVP is eight days away from celebrating his 40th birthday. Nash hasn’t had much to celebrate about since arriving in Los Angeles, and was candid about his frustration with injuries: “This is the toughest thing I’ve been through in my career…I came to L.A. with nothing but the highest hopes and expectations, and it’s been nothing but personal disappointment.” 
  • Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles has more from Nash: ”Ever since I broke my leg, nothing’s been the same. Nothing’s been easy. But I also look for challenges in life, so this is a great opportunity for me to learn about myself and try to fight through it and hopefully on the other side, I’ll be a better person.”
  • Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune discussed his thoughts on the Timberwolves’ struggles: “At times they have no energy whatsoever…They need a great point guard, and (Ricky Rubio) is not a great point guard.” Rubio is averaging 8.5 PPG, 8.2 APG, 4.6 RPG, and 2.6 SPG on the season, but Hartman appeared to imply that Rubio’s struggle to score points in the fourth quarter is a glaring weakness.
  • Grizzlies guard Mike Conley may not have been selected to the All-Star team this year, but opposing coaches know his value, writes Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal (Subscribers only).
  • Bill Ingram of Basketball Insiders presents his list of this year’s All-Star snubs from the Western Conference.
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