Friday, December 28, 2007
Giricek, Sloan say they'll put spat behind them
ESPN.com news services
Utah Jazz guard Gordan Giricek has returned to the team more than a week after he and coach Jerry Sloan got into an argument on the bench during a game, and both men are pledging to leave their disagreements in the past.
The pair told Salt Lake City-area media that they were moving forward and focusing on the future after Giricek, Sloan and general manager Kevin O'Connor met on Thursday. None of the three men would discuss the details of the meeting.
"The most important thing for everybody who loves the Jazz should be that we took care of the things and that we're going to move forward," Giricek said. "We left everything behind us. We move forward, the way it should be, not only in this situation but in your life, right?
"Always move forward from any situation you have, and why not? We're paid professionals, and we're grown-up people, and we're going to do everything that's possible to help the team," Giricek said.
Sloan offered similar comments on Thursday.
"We're just going forward," Sloan said. "Gira's back on the team. We're just headed forward with that."
Giricek and Sloan had a heated exchange during a second-quarter timeout in Utah's Dec. 19 loss at Charlotte. Giricek, whose relationship with Sloan became strained as his playing time diminished, was sent to the locker room, then sent home, and he was not immediately reinstated. He missed eight days before returning to the team Thursday.
Giricek will be uniform Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers
after missing three games.
Despite the discontent, Giricek's agent, Marc Fleisher, maintained through his absence that Giricek preferred to stay in Utah, even though he and Sloan were not seeing eye to eye.
"I have a contract, I like this city," Giricek said Thursday. "You always have some misunderstandings. Obviously, this misunderstanding maybe got into something bigger than it should become. At the end of the day, I love this team and I like being here, so why not, no?"
Whether Giricek will stay in Utah remains to be seen. He has an expiring contract, which could make him attractive to other teams as the NBA's Feb. 21 trade deadline draws near. And his replacement in the lineup, C.J. Miles, averaged 12.7 points per game in the three games Giricek missed.
Asked if the situation was blown out of proportion, O'Connor said no -- but added that the team has dealt with similar disagreements between Sloan and his players before, and gotten through them.
2008 Season Stats
"We wouldn't have had him miss three games if we felt it was blown out of proportion," O'Connor said.
"He's got a contract ... We expect him to fulfill it," he added. "We expect him to be a player on the team. This isn't the first time this has happened. Greg [Ostertag] had it happen to him a couple times and John Amaechi had it happen to him. We deal with it. Both came back and played."
Giricek said he spoke with teammates Jarron Collins, Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur during his absebce. Kirilenko, who had his own run-in with Sloan before training camp, was happy Giricek had returned.
"He's our partner, he's our friend, and, of course, it's a good deal," Kirilenko said. "He's with us. We need him. He's part of the team. We don't want to lose our teammate."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.