SALT LAKE CITY — In May 2017, a sure-fire lottery prospect out of Louisville by the name of Donovan Mitchell did a predraft workout for the Utah Jazz — a team that, with the 24th and 30th picks, were drafting nowhere near the lottery.
Mitchell decided to come anyway. Walt Perrin helped make that happen.
That workout has become something of a legend in the Jazz circles with Mitchell’s impressive performance paving the way for the Jazz to trade up in the draft to select him. Perrin, as he has been for so many draft workouts before and since, was front and center for it.
For the last 19 years, Perrin has been a key part of the Jazz front office, including being the vice president of player of personnel since 2007. Now, the Jazz will have to find his replacement.
Perrin will leave the Jazz to become an assistant general manager for the New York Knicks, KSL.com has confirmed.
The Athletic was the first to report the news.
Perrin arrived in Salt Lake City in 2001 as longtime Jazz executive Kevin O'Connor's first hire. Perrin helped the Jazz rebuild following the John Stockton and Karl Malone years. And did so once again following Jerry Sloan’s retirement, helping identify Rudy Gobert and Mitchell.
“His was good. It was good,” Walt Perrin said after Mitchell's 2017 workout, downplaying it in his customary fashion. “They all were really good today. They all were. I can't say enough about the players' character and they all came in in really good shape. They all were helping each other out. A lot of communications in this workout and the effort was outstanding."
While Perrin has been with the Jazz, Utah has found several All-Star players all across the draft, including Deron Williams, Paul Millsap, Gordon Hayward, Gobert and Mitchell. Perrin has been in charge of evaluating players at all levels — which has meant traveling to high school, college, and professional games across the country and world.
That's created a strong reputation throughout the league and world of scouting. That work ethic has still been seen over the last two months even though in-person scouting became impossible due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this month, Dennis Lindsey, Utah’s executive vice president of basketball operations, mentioned how he’s enjoyed seeing what the scouting group has done to prepare for the draft even with the limitations.
“Our scouting consultants, led by Walt Perrin, have been doing a bunch of very interesting projects now that we have a little bit more time,” Lindsey told the media in a video call. “It's been neat to participate in a few of those Zoom calls and read the notes.”
Under Lindsey, the Jazz have regularly brought in a high number of prospects both for the draft as well as free agent mini camps. Perrin has been a big part of that, helping identify the players the Jazz wants to get an up-close look at.
It was that process that got the Jazz their famous workout with Mitchell, and now Perrin will be trying to do the same for a Knicks team that is in the midst of a long rebuild. The Knicks were 21-45 when the season came to a halt on March 11.
Before arriving in Utah, Perrin spent nine years mostly as the director of scouting for the Detroit Pistons. His final two years there came alongside current Knicks general manager Scott Perry.