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Trying to keep Deron Williams, Jazz jettison Jerry Sloan. It won’t work.

Feb 10, 2011, 5:01 PM EDT

Utah Jazz v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

The Utah Jazz’s ownership didn’t want to lose its superstar, so it jettisoned its icon.

And that’s not going to work.

It’s not as simple as point guard Deron Williams wanted Jerry Sloan gone so the Utah Jazz kicked the old coach out the door to make him happy. It’s much messier than that and Sloan decided to retire because he saw the battle that was ahead. He may not have had the energy for one more fight. But that is the basic motivations here, according to multiple reports.

Wednesday night, at halftime of the Jazz’s loss to the Chicago Bulls, Sloan and Williams got into a heated argument as Williams chafed against the restraints of the flex offense, according to Yahoo. This was the latest in a long line of conflicts the two had over the years and things reportedly escalated this season when Williams had to run in the system without talents around him like Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Wes Mathews. Through his continued pushing, Sloan had lost the team, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

After Wednesday’s game the Sloan/Williams argument spilled into a discussion in the coach’s office including owner Greg Miller and GM Kevin O’Conner.

It was there that Sloan realized a lesson that all NBA coaches know but Sloan seemed to be above — star players have the real power.

It felt like it was coming down to Williams or Sloan having to go, and Williams was going to win. So Sloan decided to walk away with his dignity intact.

There are only a handful of great talents and if those players want changes in an organization — or to have the run of it the way LeBron James did in Cleveland — they often get their way. This is nothing new, Magic Johnson got Paul Westhead fired two decades ago. The supply of game-changing players is smaller than the supply of coaches — and those players generate a lot more money for the organization. So guess who wins those clashes?

Utah had seemed different. Sloan had been the head coach for 23 years and if the late Larry Miller, father of current owner Greg, were still alive this might have come out differently. But maybe not, because the Jazz have one larger concern out there:

Williams can become a free agent in the summer of 2012. He can opt out after next season.

That is what Jazz management feared more than anything. More than losing Sloan. Williams is the face of the franchise, the guy that sells the tickets and the jerseys, the reason this team is 31-23 and not 23-31 (or worse). He is one of the game’s elite point guards.

Utah can’t afford to lose him, so they started doing what they thought would make Williams happy. That led Jerry Sloan to decide he needed to walk away.

Now the offense will change (not totally this season, it’s hard to make drastic shifts midseason). Williams will get the freedom on the court he craves and a coach that will tailor things more to him.

And it will not work. Williams will still leave. Former Jazz beat writer Ross Siler understands the logic and explained why on twitter.

Deron’s gone. There’s a zero percent chance he stays in Utah if his legacy is Jerry’s departure.

He does not want to be the guy that pushed Sloan out of the franchise, whether it is true or not, fair or not. Sloan an icon and in Utah he is adored. Plus, a dramatic shift in system will necessitate new players, more time to mesh and become a unit. The Jazz will win less, not more — say what you want about Sloan’s system, he got the most out of his players.

It may be destined for failure, but the Jazz learned from the LeBron James situation, where the team fired coach Mike Brown after the season. Utah wanted to be more proactive in making changes for their superstar. But this all makes them look a little desperate and a little unstable. Two things that will not keep Williams in house.

Two things Jerry Sloan never was.

  1. digitalpoo - Feb 10, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    Deron is such a poor loser. Blaming his issues on Jerry’s coaching after he got taken to town by Derrick Rose. There is no loyalty that Deron has to fans here in Utah. He’ll be gone when his contract is up and Utah will be without an experienced coach to mend the pieces together. It’s gonna be a long decade.

  2. stinkfingers - Feb 10, 2011 at 5:30 PM

    I never really pegged D-Will as a whiner or a crybaby… I guess I was wrong.

  3. jmessinger - Feb 10, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    Wait, he doesn’t want his legacy to be the guy who got Sloan fired so he leaves? Doesn’t make sense to me. If the Jazz play well under the new coach and can add a piece or two, I bet he stays to go for a ring.

  4. jazzydre - Feb 10, 2011 at 6:05 PM

    Jazz need to be more aggressive in recruiting. Even with boozer they are not going to survive. I say start over. Hot Rod, Stockton, Malone and Sloan are gone. It’s time.

  5. ron05342 - Feb 10, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    It was three decades ago, not two.

    How time flies.

  6. rickhere - Feb 10, 2011 at 7:13 PM

    Keep dissing on D-Williams…and he will leave…then what do you have in Utah….Notta…Utah after D-Williams will be competing with Cleveland for the worse record in the league…So Keep Dissing him…

    • secdominance - Feb 10, 2011 at 8:42 PM

      I’m so sick of hearing about loyalty in sports. Its an attribute they only want the players to have. Management and coaches can leave at anytime but if a player wants change, he’s wrong for some reason.

      And lets be real, in 23 Sloan only made 2 Finals. They should have cut bait on him long time ago

      • rickhere - Feb 10, 2011 at 10:08 PM

        secdominance I agree with you…Sloan never won anything…and all you Utah Fans-Sloan Lovers…Bring Sloan back and trade D-Willams away…and guess what you still won’t win a damn thing…

      • dualhats - Feb 11, 2011 at 12:17 AM

        Can you explain how he won 42 games with this team?

  7. beerndonuts - Feb 10, 2011 at 8:08 PM

    Looking forward to see the Utah fan reaction to Deron Williams at their next home game. It doesn’t matter how he tries to spin it, he’s the reason Sloan left and as long as Utah remains mediocre to bad (assuming it goes that way), he won’t be forgiven. Good luck with that D-Will.

  8. jazzblood - Feb 10, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    I’ve been an avid Jazz fan since the beginning. What owner Larry Miller always showed was ‘integrity’ in his dealings with the team. But somewhere his teachings were lost on those who replaced him. Jerry Sloan, an icon of the Jazz and the entire NBA, was nothing less than phenominal. Even in his departure he remained true to his morals and ‘integrity’. Lets hope that the ‘spoiled brat syndrome’ players in the league learn something from this splendid example of a man. As for Deron Williams, all I can say is, how does it feel to get your way at the expense of such a man.

  9. gtida - Feb 10, 2011 at 8:38 PM

    Regardless of how good or bad D-Will is, Jerry has been a great player, coach, and supporter of the NBA. The Jazz and fans everywhere are going to miss him. I am sorry to see him go, especially in this type of situation, and I wish him the best. Job well done, Jerry! As for the future Utah Jazz…I will still be a fan, so I hope for a good transition.

  10. mharenza - Feb 10, 2011 at 9:55 PM

    Stop tossing around the word “elite”. Isiah was an elite point guard, Magic was an elite point guard. Those players transcended the game. I am sorry but Deron Williams does not meet that definition. He is Tim Hardaway. Good player, won some games…but that is it. Let me ask this question; if Deron Williams is your best player, can you win a championship? I do not think so. He is an overrated egotistical player who will always come up short because of his unwillingness to listen and learn from others. I have never been a Jazz fan, but there was not a choice but to respect Jerry Sloan. I am sorry to see him run out of Utah by a player who is not half the point guard of John Stockton.

    • iantford - Feb 11, 2011 at 3:32 PM

      if deron williams is your best player, you can absolutely win a championship. like sloan, he gets the most out of his team.

      he is unarguably one of the best 3 at his position. that is what “elite” means.

  11. larz987654321 - Feb 10, 2011 at 11:30 PM

    GOOD RIDDANCE! Now Utah get rid of the crappy basketball team and get an NHL Hockey Team to cheer for!

    The Jazz have NEVER followed thru with anything and have only brought shame on Utah (like Utah needed more of that). It is time that we just say “give it up- move on to a new sport”.

  12. willcoop - Feb 11, 2011 at 1:18 AM

    Williams is as Good as gone. Everyone complained about Boozer and I warned everyone how petulant Williams is. I dealt with him as a trainer at the University of Illinois and he had always put himself ahead of his teammates, thinking he was the man. Deron was very angry this year because he was not voted to the first team as an all star. He will be forever known as a cancer, and it will not be said in public, but he has very few friends on the team, and he is not well liked. Think back to what he did to Hayward on TV. He is not an elite point guard, and he is not going to get any better than he is now, but what’s worse is he does not make his teammates better. He has said on numerous occasions that he wants to go to Dallas, and if I’m the GM, I start to explore those options because he is leaving and you can make book on it.

    • iantford - Feb 11, 2011 at 3:34 PM

      i don’t know him personally, he might be a jerk, but he’s a heck of a ball player and definitely makes his teammates better.

  13. thestudiokida - Feb 11, 2011 at 11:03 PM

    I heard some rumblings from the locals and it’s not good. The Utes are not happy about this Sloan/D.Williams situation are planning something big. I heard somebody refer to it as Mountain Meadows massacre 2. What does that mean?

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