Jazz » Bosses, players say assistant coach ready to move up.
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Among the Jazz's players, the consensus is that it isn't a matter of if Tyrone Corbin someday will become an NBA head coach but when. The better question is whether he will succeed Jerry Sloan or Phil Johnson in Utah or head elsewhere for another opportunity.
"He's ready to be a head coach," Carlos Boozer said of Corbin, who's in his sixth season as an assistant coach on Sloan's staff. "I think we have a luxury of having him with us and hopefully we can keep him. But he's in a place in his career where he's ready."
"He can watch your game and analyze your game better than a lot of guys can analyze their own game," Ronnie Price added. "You need that outside look, you need that advice from someone who's been there and experienced it."
Earlier this month, Corbin took a quiet but possibly significant step in moving up the coaching ladder, retaining an agent for the first time. Corbin signed with Malibu, Calif.-based Kauffman Sports, which represents four other top head coaching candidates.
"He is just so respected, and having spent time with him, it's a no-brainer he'll be a head coach," said Steve Kauffman, who also represents Jack Sikma, Mario Elie, Monty Williams and Mark Jackson and has ties to front offices around the NBA.
Corbin, 47, said his decision to sign with an agent (he had one during his playing days) should not suggest he is looking to move on.
"I haven't had one in the past and I've gotten interviews," Corbin said, "so I just decided to have somebody else represent me instead of me doing it myself."
Corbin has been a finalist in head coaching searches three times in recent summers, losing out to P.J. Carlesimo in Seattle (2007) as well as to Terry Porter in Phoenix and Vinny Del Negro in Chicago (2008).
Kauffman spoke with all three teams and said they all came away impressed, especially by Corbin's interviews. "I honestly believe if one of those teams had an opening he might be at or near the top of their lists," Kauffman said.
There are expected to be several coaching openings this summer, including possibly New Jersey, Philadelphia, Chicago, the L.A. Clippers and New Orleans. Corbin could be a candidate for both head coach and lead assistant opportunities.
"I would support him 100 percent because he's done everything you could ask a guy to do with us," Sloan said. "I don't have a problem with that. I think he'd be a very good head coach and I wouldn't stand in the way. I'd be happy for him."
Corbin has a unique résumé in having played for nine teams as part of a 16-year NBA career, being young enough to relate to the current generation of players, yet also gaining a firsthand appreciation for Sloan's old-school ways as an assistant coach.
"He's had a good background because he's played for different teams and different coaches and had a great opportunity to dissect what he likes and what he doesn't like," Sloan said. "That's a pretty good training right there."
Corbin said he hasn't thought much about the jobs expected to come open this summer and that he isn't looking to leave the Jazz.
"I couldn't ask for a better situation," Corbin said, "to learn from guys as coach and Phil and this organization and see how they do things and do it the right way."
Corbin's responsibilities with the Jazz include everything from scouting to working out players to conducting halftime interviews to helping bridge the generation gap between the players and Sloan and Johnson.
"Every time I come off the floor, me and Ty, when I come to the bench or when I sub in, sub out, we talk about what he sees and what I see and whatever it may be," C.J. Miles said. "When I work out on days off, that's who I work out with."
How much difference having an agent will make remains to be seen. Sloan hasn't had one in decades and isn't a fan of them: "You either make it or you don't. That's the way I've always looked at it. If you get a chance, fine. If you don't, you do what you've got to do."
Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor acknowledged his bluntness in saying, "If you think an agent's going to get somebody a head coaching job, that doesn't comprehend in my mind."
Among Kauffman's front-office clients, though, are Jeff Bower (New Orleans), John Hammond (Milwaukee), Donnie Walsh (New York) and Mark Warkentien (Denver). Those connections could lead to increased opportunities for Corbin.
One consideration for Corbin will be his son, Tyrell, who is one of Utah's top high-school basketball players and is heading into his senior season at West High.
"He's a senior in high school and you don't want to do anything to disrupt that, and he's having a good time," Corbin said. "That will play into whatever decision I make."