Utah basketball's director of operations, Phil Cullen, will be leaving Utah for the NBA. The former Utah player and coach was offered the position of director of basketball strategy with the San Antonio Spurs and accepted the offer. The University of Utah confirmed the move in a press release sent out this afternoon.
Larry Krystkowiak made the following comments in the release:
"I am very happy for Phil and would like to thank him for both his commitment and energy that he brought to our basketball program. He will be working for one of the most respected franchises in the NBA, along with one of the best general managers in the business. We wish Phil the very best with his new endeavor."
Cullen, who played basketball under Rick Majerus while at Utah, averaged 6.5 ppg and 3.1 rbg over his playing career from 1998-2002. He ranks in the top ten in Utah's history with 153 three pointer made. He worked as an assistant coach at Grand Canyon University before joining Larry Krystkowiak's staff four years ago. Since returning to Utah, Cullen served as director of player development during his first three seasons before taking on role of director of operations this past year. He was an important person in the planning and building of Utah's basketball facility.
Cullen's departure will add to a growing number of new faces for Utah's program next season as they will now need to add a new staff member in addition to replacing players like Jakob Poeltl, Brandon Taylor, Dakari Tucker and others. The amount of player transfers from Utah's program has raised some eyebrows this past offseason, however Cullen's departure from the staff should actually reflect some positive light onto the program. An assistant leaving a college program for the NBA is a testament to the staff Krystkowiak has been able to assemble at Utah. Other coaches such as Tommy Connor have also garnered consideration for promotions.
Utah will begin an immediate search for Cullen's replacement. Given Krytkowiak's knack for finding quality assistants and the fact Cullen used the position as a springboard to the NBA, it should not be too difficult to attract a quality replacement. We wish Phil Cullen the best as he begins a new challenge in the NBA.