Corbin Faces Delicate Balancing Act


Corbin Faces Delicate Balancing Act

By Patrick Kinahan

Until the decision is taken out his hands, whether through trade or other circumstances, Ty Corbin faces a dilemma each game.

Who plays?

With the exception of 21-year-old Gordon Hayward, who starts, the Jazz are basically split into two distinct groups. The clean divide has become veterans and newcomers.

Through 24 games, Corbin has gone with a veteran starting lineup of primarily Raja Bell, Devin Harris, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson in addition to second-year pro Hayward. Veterans Josh Howard and Jamal Tinsley have combined for four starts, with 20-year-old Derrick Favors starting five games.

While trying to win now, Corbin also is charged with planning for the future in the form of Hayward, Favors, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks. It’s a charge that can be dicey at times, as it was last Tuesday when the younger players clicked for much of the fourth quarter but gave way to the starters late in the loss to the Indiana Pacers.

Afterward, Jazz fans lit up the DJ and PK Facebook page demanding that Corbin go with the rookies and second-year players.

“It’s definitely probably a challenge for Ty and his staff,” said Bell. “I’m glad it’s not my job.”

As long as the Jazz win, nobody can debate Corbin’s decisions. But if they lose – the Jazz have lost four of their last five games and face road-heavy schedule the next six weeks – the second-guessers will get louder.

As Corbin preforms the delicate balancing act, he looks to the Oklahoma City Thunder as a blueprint. Drafting Kevin Durant in June 2007, the team that was still in Seattle went 20-62. The second year of the Durant era resulted in only another three victories.

As Durant continued to gain experience and the team added additional pieces, most notably point guard Russell Westbrook, the Thunder have become an elite team. Along the way, the NBA has taken notice.

“It’s been a model for some teams now, thinking we can build it the way we want to build it,” Corbin said.

But at the same time, patience usually isn’t a virtue in professional sports. A patient coach often leads to an unemployed coach.

Even as some of the fans are willing to sacrifice the present for a better draft position, Corbin isn’t blowing off the present. He believes the Jazz can win now and build for what appears to be a promising future.

In the meantime, as the likes of Kanter and Favors gain valuable experience, the Jazz can still be entertaining and contend for a playoff spot. So far, benefitting from a favorable schedule, the plan has been working.

“We have a core group of young guys that we can grow with,” he said. “We have to get the young with the old, or the veteran guys, and grow a little faster and try to speed the curve up and have a chance to win a little bit now but planning for the future also.”

Eventually, though, the time will come when the newcomers push out the veterans. Until then, Corbin and his coaching staff have to make tough calls every game.

“That’s what they get paid the big bucks to do,” Bell said.