Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller told a Salt Lake City radio station that he believes a half-hour meeting between coach Jerry Sloan and disgruntled forward Andrei Kirilenko, in which Sloan was asked to balance his criticism with praise, helped convince Kirilenko to stand down from his trade demand, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
In an interview on KFNZ-AM, Miller said that during the meeting with Sloan and general manager Kevin O'Connor, Kirilenko said he would accept Sloan's criticism as long as Sloan was willing to offer equal amounts of praise, according to the report.
"It is incumbent on Jerry to make a reasonable adjustment. That's not to say kiss his butt," said Miller, according to the Tribune. Miller also called Kirilenko "one of the 10 best players in the league."
Sloan, when asked about Miller's on-air comments at Jazz training camp in Boise, Idaho, said he would "do anything" to bring out the best in Kirilenko, according to the Tribune. "I hold myself accountable for those situations that come up. Do what we can to try to help him. I hope that I can get that done."
Just after leading Russia to the European championship last month, Kirilenko said he wanted the Jazz to trade him or release him. He said he had grown miserable playing for Sloan, who is well-known for his gruff demeanor, and felt like a "robot."
But Monday, after meeting with Sloan, Kirilenko steered clear of those comments, saying "I've already said everything. All I can do right now is concentrate on basketball."
Did the face-to-face meeting convince Sloan to change his approach?
"It all depends on who's judging,'' Sloan said, according to the Tribune. "Anytime that things don't go well, you're always considered a negative coach. When a player's not happy, that's usually the first thing that comes out. That's something we don't want to be. We want to be positive.
"I was positive with my teammates when I played. Maybe I've overlooked some of that in my coaching, but I've always felt like that I've been positive. There comes a time that you have to correct people and if that's being negative, then I'll have to accept that."
The Jazz are coming off their best season in 10 years, reaching
the Western Conference finals in their first playoff appearance
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.