Jerry Sloan Retirement: Is Deron Williams The Next One to Leave The Utah Jazz?

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2011

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 12:  Head coach Jerry Sloan of the Utah Jazz against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on November 12, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Jerry Sloan will announce his retirement at a press conference this afternoon.

Sloan met with Utah's general manager after Wednesday's loss to the Chicago Bulls.  Some reports out of Salt Lake are saying there was some kind of confrontation between Sloan and general manager Kevin O'Connor.

Today, practice was abruptly canceled and news broke that Jerry Sloan and assistant Phil Johnson would announce their retirements.

Sloan has over 1200 wins in his head coaching career, and this is his third season at the helm for the Jazz.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.

He took the Jazz to back-to-back finals in the 90s but never cashed in for an elusive title.  Despite never winning the game's biggest prize, he will go down as one of the greatest coaches of all-time.

The biggest question here is: What's next for Utah?

For as long as I can remember, Jerry Sloan and the Jazz have been almost synonymous (in fact, he took over the team less than two years after I was born).

It's hard to imagine someone else coaching this team, but that's exactly what will happen very soon.

According to Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune, assistant coach Ty Corbin is set to take over for the remainder of the season.

In the offseason, they may pursue other options.  Portland's Nate McMillan is on a contract that is set to expire at the end of the year.  Larry Brown is also supposedly still interested in coaching.

Who do you guys think would be a good for this job?  Can anyone fill Sloan's shoes and be as successful as he was?

Another question to consider is whether or not this affects Deron Williams.  Utah's point guard is one of the best in the league, and Jerry Sloan's offense has a lot to do with his production.

But lately, Williams and Sloan have not been on the same page.  Some close to the situation are saying Williams called his own play during Utah's Wednesday night loss to Chicago.  Williams' bold move led to a halftime confrontation with Sloan.

Will Williams suffer without Sloan?  Or will he continue to improve?  Will he benefit from having more freedom (assuming Sloan's replacement gives him that)? 

We also have to consider Williams not even staying in Utah.  Will he look to take off to a bigger market like some of his contemporaries?

The Boston Celtics made "big threes" very popular, and LeBron James showed us just how much control a superstar can have in determining his own destiny.

In the first season following "The Decision", two players have already tried to hold their teams hostage by requesting to be traded to a bigger market to play with other superstars.

Chris Paul's request was rebuffed and he quickly backed off.  Carmelo Anthony's desires have gained significantly more traction.  It looks like he'll get his wish before the trade deadline.

Deron Williams doesn't seem to be as caught up in his own hype as Melo is with his, but there have been rumblings in the past regarding D-Will possibly wanting a change of scenery.

With Sloan stepping down, the team could be headed in a new direction.  There's not guarantee that Williams will be excited about whatever that new direction may be.

However, we know Deron Williams to be a team player.  The chances of him accepting whatever comes his way are actually pretty good.

Another possible result of this shakeup is that the Jazz might be more active in the trade market in the next couple weeks.

The team is in a funk right now, and Sloan's retirement almost certainly won't help.  With the roster as is, they may not be competitive in the playoffs.

If they continue on the pace they've been on over the last few weeks, they might not even make the playoffs.  They're currently in sixth place in the west but they're only three games ahead of ninth-place Memphis.

They have a great trade chip in Andrei Kirilenko's expiring contract, and I think they'll use it before the February 24 trade deadline.

Here is one trade idea that I think would make the Jazz contenders.  A starting lineup of Deron Williams, O.J. Mayo, Danny Granger, Al Jefferson and Troy Murphy would be very dangerous.

Jerry Sloan's retirement is huge, and it may not be the only big change coming for the Utah Jazz.  It will be very interesting to see what will happen with this organization over the next few weeks and months.


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