Lamar Skeeter

Jazz Announce Assistant Coaches, Name Jeff Hornacek Coaching Consultant

The Jazz have made some personnel additions. Utah announced today in a press release that the team will bring back assistant coaches Alex Jensen, Lamar Skeeter, and Bryan Bailey – all of whom operated as assistants under previous Jazz head coach Quin Snyder – to work under new head coach Will Hardy.

They will join a robust assistant staff that includes the previously announced Jason Terry, Evan Bradds, Irv Roland, and Sean Sheldon. Other staffers noted in the statement include player development coaches Chris Jones and Sanjay Lumpkin, who previously had different gigs under the Snyder regime.

Utah is hiring Becca Ward as its new director of team operations. The team’s video coordinator will be Anthony Beaumont, assisted by Andrew Warren and Matthew Temple.

In terms of other new additions, the Jazz also announced that former longtime Utah wing Jeff Hornacek will return to the team as a coaching consultant. Hornacek worked as an assistant coach for Utah from 2011-13 under head coach Tyrone Corbin. Most recently, he served as an assistant coach on Stephen Silas‘s Rockets staff from 2020-22.

Utah is undergoing a seismic roster rebuild, having already offloaded veterans Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Royce O’Neale and Patrick Beverley this summer in separate deals. The team appears to be prioritizing a long-term rebuild, accruing oodles of future draft picks and young players in its trades this summer and building a coaching group set to develop its youth for years to come.

Northwest Notes: Lillard, B. Brown, Jazz Coaches

A year ago, there were rumors that Damian Lillard was ready to ask the Trail Blazers for a trade, but he has re-established himself as a franchise cornerstone by signing a two-year extension, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. At a press conference Saturday, Lillard said he chose to ignore advice from people who said he had to go to a different team to have a shot at winning an NBA title.

“I’ve always said that if I do something that goes against who I am, and say I do end up winning, I know me better than any of y’all know me,” Lillard said. “So I’d be happy with it, because I don’t think anybody wouldn’t be happy being a champion, but it wouldn’t be as fulfilling to me as I would want that moment to be. As long as I have an opportunity to do it, a good opportunity to [compete for a title], I’m willing to go out however.”

The 31-year-old guard is coming off a difficult season as he was limited to 29 games because of a core muscle injury and Portland sank close to the bottom of the Western Conference. Despite the adversity, Lillard felt it was important to show his loyalty to the Blazers and possibly serve as an example to the rest of the league.

“I feel proud to be that guy,” he said. “Because I don’t think you earn something like this just by going out there and scoring a bunch of points. And something that’s missing in our league is the character and the fight and the passion and pride about not just the name on the back, but the name on the front and how you impact the people that you come in contact with. And I think because of how much I’ve embraced that and I haven’t pretended to embrace it, that’s really who I am, and I think this just shows the power in that. It shows that there’s something there for being committed and having your heart in the right place and having your mind in the right place.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Lillard will consider playing in the 2024 Olympics, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. He captured a gold medal with Team USA last year.
  • Bruce Brown‘s decision to join the Nuggets in free agency was heavily influenced by former Nets teammate Jeff Green, who touted the advantages of playing alongside Nikola Jokic, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post“I literally can’t wait,” Brown said about the chance to team up with Jokic. “He’s one of the guys I hate playing against, me being a defender because you can’t turn your head. You gotta keep your eye on the ball at all times, which is tough. He makes the perfect play every time.”
  • Jazz assistant coaches Alex Jensen and Lamar Skeeter are strong candidates to remain with the team on Will Hardy‘s staff, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic.

Jazz To Interview Frank Vogel, Lamar Skeeter

Two more coaches have joined the list of candidates the Jazz intend to interview for their open head coaching position, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), who reports that Frank Vogel and Lamar Skeeter are expected to sit down with the team.

Vogel coached the Lakers for the last three seasons, leading the team to a 127-98 (.564) regular season record and a 2020 championship before being dismissed in April. He reportedly interviewed with the Hornets following his exit from Los Angeles, but isn’t believed to be a finalist for Charlotte’s job.

Unlike Vogel, who has coached over 800 regular season games in Indiana, Orlando, and L.A., Skeeter doesn’t have any NBA head coaching experience, though he did coach the Jazz’s Summer League team in 2019. He has been a member of Utah’s staff for the last eight years, initially in a player development/video role and more recently as an assistant on Quin Snyder‘s staff.

Vogel and Skeeter are the seventh and eighth candidates reported to be getting interviews with the Jazz. Terry Stotts, Alex Jensen, Will Hardy, Johnnie Bryant, Charles Lee, and Joe Mazzulla are also said to be meeting with the team, while veteran assistants Adrian Griffin and Kevin Young have been mentioned as possible candidates too.

We’re keeping tabs on Utah’s head coaching search – and Charlotte’s – in our 2022 head coach search tracker.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, ‘Melo, Nuggets, Wolves, Jazz

Star point guard Damian Lillard attempted to recruit Carmelo Anthony to the Trail Blazers before the 10-time All-Star was traded to Oklahoma City in 2017 and then again before ‘Melo signed with Houston in 2018.

With Anthony once again on the lookout for a new team, Lillard has made peace with the fact that the veteran forward probably isn’t coming to Portland, as he said during an appearance on The Joe Budden Podcast (video link via ESPN). After Lillard detailed his previous recruiting efforts, he was asked if he’s “not putting [his] hand out again.”

“The team or me,” Lillard responded. “I’m like, ‘He ain’t coming here.’ He deserves to be in the league, but he ain’t coming here.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Free agent point guard Isaiah Taylor is working out for the Nuggets in Denver this week, league sources tell Harrison Wind of BSN Denver (Twitter link). After spending the 2017/18 season with Atlanta, Taylor was pushing for a spot on Cleveland’s roster last fall when he suffered a stress fracture in his leg and was subsequently waived. Now healthy, Taylor has also worked out for the Suns and Celtics, according to Wind.
  • The Timberwolves announced this week in a press release that Sam Newman-Beck will assume head coaching duties for their G League affiliate, the Iowa Wolves. Newman-Beck, who was an assistant for the Erie BayHawks last season, previously spent eight years (2010-18) in Minnesota as a coaching associate/video scouting director.
  • Bryan Bailey, who was previously on the Salt Lake City Stars’ staff in the G League, has been hired as an assistant by the Jazz, league sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). Jones adds (via Twitter) that Johnnie Bryant and Alex Jensen will continue to be Utah’s lead assistants, with Lamar Skeeter, Zach Guthrie, and Vince Legarza sharing the third assistant role and rotating on the bench.

Jazz Announce Coaching Staff Changes

The Jazz have finalized their coaching staff for the coming season and have also announced some changes to their basketball staff, the team announced in a pair of press releases. Most notably, assistant coach Igor Kokoskov has received a promotion to lead assistant in Utah, as he prepares for his second year with the club. Kokoskov previously served as an assistant for five other NBA teams, including a Pistons squad that won the 2004 NBA Finals.

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In other coaching staff moves, Zach Guthrie was elevated from manager of basketball strategy/technology to assistant coach/basketball strategy, while Lamar Skeeter was promoted from player development/video analyst to assistant coach/player development. Guthrie, Skeeter, and Kokoskov will join five other returning Jazz assistants on Quin Snyder‘s staff.

In the scouting department, Richard Smith was promoted to executive director of international scouting. Elsewhere in the front office, Bart Taylor was named the Jazz’s director of scouting and the VP of basketball operations for the D-League’s Salt Lake City Stars.

While Snyder is just 78-86 in his two years with the Jazz, the team heads into the 2016/17 season with increased expectations, having added some veteran talent to a young roster in the offseason. Although Utah missed the postseason this spring, many fans and observers expect the club to take a step forward and compete for a top-five seed in the Western Conference.