Karl Malone (center) is set to take a coaching position with the Jazz. (Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)
Hall of Fame forward Karl Malone will serve as a part-time, big-man coach for the Jazz.
"With his success as a power forward in the NBA and the length of his career, he's obviously got a lot to teach,'' Miller said. "We're fortunate that he's now willing to make himself and his expertise available to us.''
Malone, 49, spent the first 18 seasons of a 19-year career in Utah, winning two NBA MVP awards, earning 14 All-Star Game selections, and leading the Jazz to the Finals in 1997 and 1998. He ranks No. 2 on the NBA's all-time scoring list and holds career averages of 25 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.
The Deseret News reports that Malone told 1280 AM in Salt Lake City that he's looking forward to his new gig.
"I think it's going to be a lot of fun," Malone said. "I know a lot of people are going to have a lot of questions about how much time it's going to take, but … I think we'll all have a lot fun with it. I'll be looking forward — time and schedule permitting — to working with the big guys."
"We haven't discussed nothing other than that I'll be coaching the bigs," Malone said.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, who was Malone's teammate for two-plus seasons in Utah from 1991 to 1994, issued a statement welcoming Malone's presence.
"It is great to have Karl as a resource for the team,'' Corbin said. "He is one of the most talented big men to have ever played this game.''
Utah finished 43-39 last season, missing out the playoffs by just two games. Veteran big men Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are set to become unrestricted free agents this summer while Favors and Kanter, both 21, appear to represent the franchise's future, regardless of what happens this summer. Last season, Favors, the No. 3 pick in the 2010 draft, averaged 9.4 points and 7.1 rebounds in 23.2 minutes while Kanter, the No. 3 pick in 2011, averaged 7.2 points and 4.3 rebounds in 15.4 minutes. Both will surely see big upticks in their playing time next season.
The decision to bring Malone back to work with the team comes a little more than a year after Miller and Malone engaged in an extended public argument. In a February 2012 blog post, Miller accused Malone of being high-maintenance and said that he was guilty of "unreliability and instability." Those comments followed an extended back-and-forth that saw Malone allege that he had to pay for his own tickets to Jazz games and suggest that Jazz management should have provided more support to former coach Jerry Sloan before he abruptly retired in 2011 amid reports of a strained relationship with former Jazz guard Deron Williams.
Working as an assistant coach in the NBA isn't a glamorous or particularly high-paying position, especially in a part-time capacity. Whether Malone's work amounts to much remains to be seen, but this arrangement between Miller and Malone sure looks like a nice olive branch compared to their scorched earth relationship of the recent past. From an outsider's perspective, it just didn't seem right that a player so synonymous with a franchise would be at such bitter odds with his former club.