NBA: Layden says he only has good feelings about time in Utah
NBA • Former Jazz assistant took Dennis Lindsey's place in San Antonio.
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San Antonio • Scott Layden had just been "whacked" in New York. Following his 2004 firing by the Knicks — which, whether intentionally or not, the longtime Jazz executive described with terminology more often associated with mob hits than personnel decisions — he got his first close-up look at the San Antonio Spurs.

Layden, his father Frank, the former Jazz coach, and former University of Utah coach Rick Majerus were invited to San Antonio's training camp to observe.

"I saw a snapshot of the Spurs organization," Layden said. "It was really fascinating at the time to see what all they had going on."

In September, Layden ended his seven-year stint as an assistant coach with the Jazz to become the Spurs' assistant general manager. He replaced Dennis Lindsey, who was hired as the Jazz's new general manager.

"It was unusual circumstances," Layden said, "everybody going back and forth."

But before the Jazz and Spurs played Saturday in a rematch of last year's first-round sweep in the playoffs, Layden, who was previously the Jazz's vice president of basketball operations, attempted to dispel any notion that he was upset about not being a candidate for the position that went to Lindsey.

"I hope it's not portrayed that way," he said, "because I'm not that way."

After spending the better part of the decade on the bench, Lindsey was ready to get back into the front office and scouting.

"To get back in the front office and get back with an organization like this," Layden said, "I couldn't ask for anything better."

Layden called the Jazz's hire of Lindsey a "home run" and called the 43-year-old "one of the great executives in the game."

"You look at Dennis and what he's done in the league," Layden said. "He'll put the Jazz in a great, great place for many, many years."

Before Saturday's game, Lindsey and Layden sat courtside in the AT&T Center and chatted for about five minutes. It was one of the few times they had been in the same spot since they traded places.

Layden is significantly closer to the Spurs than he was seven years ago, when he visited as an observer, but said, "Now that I'm even more immersed with it, it's a special place."

boram@sltrib.com

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