Hall of Famer Karl Malone is returning to the Utah Jazz to help develop and mentor the team’s two young big men.
Jazz CEO Greg Miller said Wednesday that Malone will work with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, as well as other players. The team says no specific schedule has been set for Malone’s involvement. Miller said it will be a part-time, consulting type of arrangement with Malone working periodically with Favors and Kanter.
The move brings back one of the franchise’s greatest players at a time when the team is trying to build a contending team around Favors, Kanter and swingman Gordon Hayward. The Jazz missed the playoffs this past season.
”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 of Malone. ”We’re fortunate that he’s now willing to make himself and his expertise available to us.”
Favors averaged 9 points and 7 rebounds in his third season. Kanter averaged 7 points and 4 rebounds in his second season. Both are 21 years old, and both were No. 3 picks in their respective NBA drafts.
A two-time NBA MVP, Malone played 18 seasons for Utah. He was a 14-time All-Star and ranks second on the NBA’s career scoring list with 36,928 points. He teamed with Hall of Fame point guard John Stockton during the franchise’s greatest seasons.
”It is great to have Karl as a resource for the team,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. ”He is one of the most talented big men to have ever played this game.”
The idea gained steam when Corbin came to Miller and asked to discuss the idea, Miller said.
In addition to teaching the big men body positioning and other technical tricks that he learned and honed in his long career, Malone can help the two youngsters develop the mindset needed to be stars, Miller said.
”He’s always one that has been very tough mentally,” Miller said. ”And when he talks about how he does that, it’s pretty fascinating to hear his methods.”
Miller declined to speculate about Malone taking on a bigger role in the future, but didn’t rule it out either.
”We don’t want to rush into anything,” said Miller, while adding, ”Anything that’s out there that we think will helps us win more games, we’re open to pursuing it. If things were to unfold with Karl where it was good for him and good for the organization, we would certainly put that in that category.”