SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A person with knowledge of the situation says Jerry Sloan is stepping down as head coach of the Utah Jazz. The person told The Associated Press on Thursday that longtime assistant Phil Johnson also will resign. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the resignations have not yet been formally announced. Salt Lake City television station KSL first reported the pending resignations. The team has scheduled a 3 p.m. news conference Thursday for what it called a significant announcement. The 68-year-old Sloan is the longest-tenured head coach in any of the four major sports. The moves come on the heels of an emotional 91-86 loss Wednesday night to the Chicago Bulls, Utah’s 10th in the last 14 games. Sloan hinted that something was in the works after delaying his postgame press conference Wednesday for more than 30 minutes because of what he said was a meeting with Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor. He appeared shaken when first talking with reporters, and said more would be forthcoming Thursday. The team also immediately sent out a text saying that a Thursday practice had been canceled. “We just had some things we had to discuss, and we’ll talk to you later on about that,” Sloan said. Sloan was asked if there was need for a shake-up. “I don’t think there’s any great need for panic,” he said Wednesday night. “Kevin is always evaluating what we can do or what someone wants to do with another team and that’s part of the business. Every day that’s part of his job.” 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. He ranks third all-time in NBA wins behind Don Nelson (1,335) and Lenny Wilkens (1,332). Sloan also is one of only three coaches in NBA history with 15-plus consecutive seasons with a winning record (Pat Riley and Phil Jackson, both with 19, are the others). As a player with the Bulls, Sloan averaged 14.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 755 games played over 11 NBA seasons. Nicknamed “The Original Bull” because he was selected in the 1966 Expansion Draft, Sloan was a two-time NBA All-Star (1967, 1969) known for his toughness and grit. He was the only player in NBA history to average 7-plus rebounds and 2-plus steals per game for his career. Sloan recorded two triple-doubles in his career. A knee injury prematurely ended his career in 1976. Sloan has been known for his straightforward answers and wry sense of humor. He conducts his pre-game interviews next to a plastic trash receptacle rather than at a podium. “You never know when you might be in it,” he quipped before Wednesday’s game. “It’s why I stand here. You take what you get.” Sloan had recently signed an extension to remain with the Jazz through the 2011-12 campaign, but said then that he would not make a decision about returning to the team until after the 2010-11 season was complete. He leaves after what started off as a promising season. The Jazz started 15-5, but January struggles continued into February.
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