Tom Thibodeau is not joining the Utah Jazz’s coaching staff.
Repeat: Tom Thibodeau is not joining the Utah Jazz’s coaching staff.
He is, however, helping them out.
From Jody Genessy of the Deseret News:
Turns out, Thibodeau is in town at the request of the Jazz.
Thibodeau isn’t here to be added to the Jazz’s staff, but Utah general manager Dennis Lindsey’s old co-worker in Houston is in town to do some coaching. “Thibs” has helped a handful of other NBA teams since his dismissal from Chicago last spring, and most recently the Mavericks last week.
“I was happy that he could come out and take a look at some of the things that we are doing,” Snyder said, “and give us some ideas and some thoughts and some coaching.”
Snyder smiled when asked if he’d share what Thibodeau had shared with the Jazz.
“If we start playing good,” he said, “I’ll tell you then.”
This makes total sense, to the extent that Thibs has a wealth of defensive knowledge to offer, not necessarily to the extent that an out-of-work head coach is traveling around and lending a helping hand to a smattering of teams. Someone in Thibs’ situation is more likely to be hired on as a full-time assistant or part-time consultant with one team, not play the field, so to speak.
But whatever. Maybe he’s just bored. Maybe this really was him doing a personal favor for a friend/former coworker. Truth is, Thibs can help the Jazz with his defensive savvy.
Utah is already a great defensive team. It ranked first in defensive efficiency after the trade deadline last season, per NBA.com, and nothing figures to change leading into 2015-16—except for the fact that Dante Exum is expected to miss the entire season with an ACL injury.
Exum isn’t the heart and soul of the Jazz’s defense. That honor belongs to Rudy Gobert, future Defensive Player of the Year. But the Jazz’s top-notch D was even better with Exum on the floor after the trade deadline, and his net rating was higher than that of Gobert and Gordon Hayward. Alec Burks will represent an upgrade in the backcourt on offense, but he’s a clear downgrade on the defensive end. Trey Burke, meanwhile, is undersized and routinely gets pummeled by opposing guards—usually while expending a ton of energy, for the record.
Enter Thibs. He’s had experience crafting defenses that include diminutive point guards and straight-up liabilities in the past. Derrick Rose’s routine absences left him with turnstiles such as Kirk Hinrich, Aaron Brooks and Nate Robinson. The Jazz are probably trying to figure out how they’ll maintain defensive integrity by relying on Burks and Burke instead of Exum.
And if that’s the case, they’ve brought in the right man to help them do the job—a man who, in due time, needs to get another job of his own.