Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Jazz guard Raja Bell blasts coach
SALT LAKE CITY -- Guard Raja Bell cleaned out his locker Tuesday then pronounced his career with the Utah Jazz over, calling the damage "irreparable" and ripping coach Tyrone Corbin as "unprofessional" because of a lack of communication.
Bell, 35, said his relationship with Corbin is "fractured." Though he has one more year left on his contract that will pay him more than $3.4 million, he wants the team to work out an offseason trade.
"I think everyone understands the situation we're in now," Bell said. "When it gets to a point where there's absolutely no communication for months on end, we all know that that's irreparable damage."
Bell opened the year as Utah's starting shooting guard but saw his playing time diminish. In March, he was sent home from a road trip after a verbal spat with Corbin.
Bell and Jazz brass sat down to air their differences and he started the next game. But another injury set him back, and though healthy, he did not play in Utah's first-round Western Conference series, which San Antonio swept.
The 12th-year pro averaged 6.4 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 34 games during the regular season but missed 27 games because of injury.
Corbin declined to discuss the rift.
Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor had only sarcastic comments.
"I would probably say, 'Gee, that's unexpected (to hear),' " O'Connor said. "I would have never thought that would have happened."
More seriously, he said issues like Bell's would be dealt with behind closed doors.
"He's got a contract for next year and we expect him to honor it, and if we can make our team better, we will," O'Connor said.
As for Corbin, O'Connor had only praise.
"Everyone should appreciate the professionalism he brought to the team, how he handled the shortened season, the roster changes and doing a terrific job of dragging the team to the playoffs with playing the young players and incorporating them into the scheme of things," O'Connor said. "After what we did to him last year."
O'Connor referred specifically to the team's trade of Deron Williams and Corbin's abrupt elevation last season following Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan's departure.
"He responded pretty darn well to it," O'Connor said.
Swingman C.J. Miles, who is a free agent next season, was careful with his words but echoed a few of Bell's thoughts and said it was difficult to understand Corbin's rotations at times and distribution of playing time.
Miles was a starter at one point but struggled with his shooting and with injuries.
Unlike Bell, he was hopeful of returning to the Jazz.