Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan announced his resignation Thursday afternoon at a press conference held at the team's practice facility. Longtime assistant coach Phil Johnson, in his 23rd season on Sloan's staff, also resigned.
Sloan confirmed the surprising news to FanHouse's Chris Tomasson earlier Thursday when reached by phone. "We're just moving forward and that's it," he said. Sloan declined to address rumors that a rift with point guard Deron Williams contributed to his departure.
KSL.com, the online presence for KSL Broadcasting, which includes Salt Lake City's NBC television affiliate and two radio stations, was the first to report the news.
Tyrone Corbin, who's in his second season with the Jazz and played for Sloan from 1991-94, has been named the new head coach. The Jazz are apparently committed to Corbin taking over on a permanent basis; unlike most in-season coaching replacements, he has not been giving the "interim" label.
Sloan, 68, was in his 23rd consecutive season as head coach of the Jazz, the longest active tenure of any head coach in the NBA, MLB, NFL or NHL. Just this past Monday, Sloan signed an extension to return for a 24th season, though he admitted at the time that didn't guarantee he'd return.
"That has nothing to do with anything," he said of the agreement. "When the season is over, I always tell (Jazz ownership) that I'll give them two weeks and I'll make up my mind (about his future). It's not a big deal. I don't worry about that. I might not be alive in two weeks."
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Under Sloan, the Jazz made the playoffs 19 times. The team opened this season with a 27-13 record but has since lost 10 of their last 14, dropping them to 31-23 and sixth in the Western Conference.
Injuries have played a significant role in the team's struggles, with Al Jefferson the only player to appear in all 54 games. Mehmet Okur, Utah's third-leading scorer last season, has appeared in only 13 games due to injuries to his Achilles and back, averaging a paltry 4.9 points in 12.9 minutes off the bench. Deron Williams has missed only four games but has played through an injured shooting hand.
"Everybody knows the situation we're in," Sloan said earlier this week. "We've kind of stubbed our toe here and there."
Despite Sloan's longevity with the Jazz, there were signs that the team's recent slide was causing internal turmoil. Immediately following Wednesday's loss to the Bulls, Sloan was involved in a 30-minute closed-door meeting with GM Kevin O'Connor -- and was described as "shaken and out of sorts" by Brian Smith of the Tribune when he finally emerged for his post-game press conference.
"We just had some things we had to discuss, and we'll talk to you later on about that," Sloan told reporters.
Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports that Sloan and Williams "clashed in the locker room at halftime" on Wednesday. "(Sloan) decided right there in halftime that he was done," a league source told Yahoo! Sports. "He felt like ownership was listening more to Williams than they were to him anymore. He was done."
Wednesday's alleged argument was at least the third major altercation between the point guard and coach this season, reports Brian Smith.
Sloan has a career 1,221-803 record as a head coach. He trails only Lenny Wilkens (1,332) and Don Nelson (1,335) in terms of career wins, although he's posted a superior career winning percentage (.603) than either coach.
Sloan began working for the Jazz as a scout in 1983, became assistant to coach Frank Layden on Nov. 19, 1984, and was named the sixth coach in franchise history on Dec. 9, 1988, when Layden resigned.
He is the only coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games with one team, a feat he accomplished Nov. 7 against Oklahoma City. Sloan's other wins came with the Chicago Bulls from 1979 to 1982.
While he has headed the Jazz, there have been 245 coaching changes around the league -- 13 alone by the Los Angeles Clippers, and five current NBA teams (Charlotte, Memphis, Toronto, Orlando and Minnesota) did not even exist when Sloan took the helm in Utah.
Sloan has never been honored as the NBA's Coach of the Year but was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.
Watch Jerry Sloan's press conference:
-- Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.