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O'Connor Named Jazz V.P.


The Utah Jazz ended a two-week search Thursday by hiring Kevin O'Connor as vice president of basketball operations.

O'Connor, director of player personnel for the Philadelphia 76ers last year, succeeds Scott Layden, who left Aug. 10 to become general manager of the New York Knicks.

O'Connor, 51, said he planned to start with the Jazz "as soon as I can clean out my desk in Philadelphia," although he expected to work for both organizations during the transition.

"I'll probably be wearing two hats for a few weeks," he said.

Besides O'Connor, the Jazz interviewed Keith Grant, Dallas' assistant general manager; Rich Kelley, a former Utah center who scouts for the team; and David Fredman, a Jazz assistant.

Team officials said Jazz general manager Tim Howells wasn't available for comment Thursday night.

O'Connor was a regional scout for the Jazz in 1997. He was an assistant at UCLA under Larry Brown, now the coach in Philadelphia, when the Bruins lost to Louisville in the 1980 NCAA championship.

O'Connor graduated in 1969 from Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina with degrees in economics and business. As a senior, he was a captain and led his team to a 21-5 record.

He also has scouted for the New Jersey Nets, Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers.

Layden held the Utah job 11 years. He was brought into the Utah system by his father, former coach Frank Layden, but left because he said he wanted the challenge of working in New York.

One of O'Connor's first jobs will be signing free agents. But before negotiations, he said he will meet with Howells, owner Larry Miller and coach Jerry Sloan, then "follow the lead."

"It's putting the cart ahead of the horse right now," O'Connor said of the free-agent situation. "I'm the newest member of the Jazz family."

Talks appear to be at a standstill with guard Shandon Anderson, who has asked Utah for more than $3 million a season, and the Jazz have been pursuing center Olden Polynice.

Also pending are talks with guards John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek, but both usually negotiate directly with Miller. Both are expected back.

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