Jazz Assimilating New Coaches, Shaq Harrison

Dec 10, 2020, 3:31 PM
Shaq Harrison (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)...
Shaq Harrison (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – In an offseason that focused largely on continuity, with the Utah Jazz bringing 11 players back from last season’s roster while adding former Jazzman Derrick Favors to the mix, there are a handful of new faces trying to assimilate to their new team.

While rookies Udoka Azubuike and Elijah Hughes have received the majority of the attention, the Jazz also brought in three new assistant coaches to replace outgoing faces, and on Wednesday, the team signed free agent guard Shaq Harrison.

With the team’s first preseason game set for Saturday against the Phoenix Suns, coach Quin Snyder is working to help the new faces on his bench get comfortable.

New Jazz Coaches

The Jazz added three coaches with unique individual backgrounds to this season’s staff. With Johnnie Bryant, DeSagana Diop, and Zach Guthrie leaving the team for other opportunities, Snyder hired Dell Demps, Keyon Dooling, and Sergi Oliva as assistants

Demps worked with the Jazz head coach when he was overseeing the Austin Toros. Demps left the San Antonio Spurs organization to become general manager of the New Orleans Pelicans, a role he held until 2019.

Dooling played for Snyder at the University of Missouri before a successful 13 year NBA career.

Oliva held an analytics role working with the Philadelphia 76ers front office and coaching staff before joining the Jazz.

With none of the three having much high-level coaching experience before landing in Utah, building close relationships is key to their integration into the staff.

“They’re really comfortable on the court with guys,” Snyder said. “I think that’s a first step where you’re able to form those relationships quickly and coach guys individually.”

While they’re new to the organization, there’s already some familiarity with the coaches and some of the more veteran players on Jazz the roster.

“I’ve played against his teams over the last however many so years,” Conley said. “It’s cool to have him on our staff and pick his brain, and see his thoughts as a coach as opposed to management.”

Conley’s ties with Dooling run even deeper.

“Keyon Dooling was a teammate of mine in Memphis for a year,” Conley said. “I learned a lot from him back then. But now seeing him really be active with the guys, especially Donovan [Mitchell], take him under his wing, just seeing him as a coach is really cool.”

The two were teammates during the 2012-13 season, the final year of Dooling’s playing career. The veteran guard appeared in just seven regular-season games in Memphis but was a rotational piece during the Grizzlies Western Conference Finals run.

Snyder credits his new coaches’ humility with their quick adaptation to the staff.

“Dell, who’s run an NBA team, he’s come in and embraced what we’re doing here as an assistant coach,” Snyder said. “Keyon, who had a long successful career in the NBA, he’s done the same thing. There’s nothing that’s too small for those guys to do and that makes the integration of your staff that much more fluid.”

Jazz Welcoming Shaq Harrison

The Jazz entered training camp with an extra roster spot open in case they wanted to add an additional body. On Wednesday, the Jazz signed former Chicago Bulls guard Shaq Harrison to a one year, minimum contract.

Due to COVID-19 regulations, Harrison can’t be around the Jazz in a group setting until Friday but was able to go through a one on zero workout with a coach Wednesday night in the team’s gym.

When Harrison does join the team, he likely won’t be involved in full team scrimmages as he recovers from a broken hand. Despite not having him in live-action, Snyder knows what to expect from the Jazz newest guard.

“When you watch him play, he jumps out at you,” Snyder said. “You know that he can defend and defend the ball. He’s got physicality, and I think when you see a guy that can bring that, I’m excited for our staff and myself to have a chance to work with him.”

Harrison averaged 4.9 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 43 appearances with the Bulls last season.

“I think one of the things that he appreciates with the opportunity here is we’d like to see him get better,” Snyder said. “And I think that’s something that he can do.”

The Jazz open their preseason schedule on Saturday against the Phoenix Suns. The team will travel to Portland to face the Trail Blazers on December 23 to open the regular season.

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Jazz Assimilating New Coaches, Shaq Harrison