Coaching Candidates For Jazz To Replace Quin Snyder
SALT LAKE CITY – After eight seasons the Utah Jazz and head coach Quin Snyder have decided to part ways.
Snyder is the second-winningest coach in Jazz history behind only Jerry Sloan, and leaves big shoes to fill in his absence.
With the Jazz immediately opening their head coaching search, here’s a list of familiar faces, some interesting names to discuss, and a pie in the sky option for Danny Ainge and Justin Zanik to consider.
Alex Jensen: Utah Jazz Assistant
Current Jazz assistant Alex Jensen is a name that has been commonly mentioned as a potential replacement for Snyder, as well as other head coaching jobs around basketball.
Most recently Jensen was named as a potential replacement for Larry Krystkowiak at the University of Utah but withdrew his name in 2021 to return to the Jazz.
Jensen was also a candidate for the Cleveland Cavaliers head coaching job in 2019 but wasn’t hired for the job.
The longtime Jazz assistant has also served as an assistant for the German National Team and has been key in the development of Rudy Gobert.
Jensen will likely continue to get vetted as a potential head coach around the NBA whether that’s in Utah or elsewhere.
Johnnie Bryant: New York Knicks Assistant
Also a former assistant under Snyder, Johnnie Bryant spent two seasons with the Jazz as a player development specialist before being promoted to an assistant coach.
Bryant was hired by the New York Knicks as the associate head coach under Tom Thibodeau in 2021 and helped lead the Knicks to the playoffs in his first season.
The Knicks assistant is a well-known “players coach” having developed strong relationships with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell, plus fellow All-Stars Damian Lillard and Paul Millsap.
Though the Knicks had a down season, Thibodeau remains a respected coach around the NBA for his defensive philosophy, and Bryant’s ability to build personal relationships with players and close ties to the state of Utah makes him a logical candidate.
Former Head Coaches
Terry Stotts: Former Portland Trail Blazers Head Coach
Terry Stotts has been a familiar face around NBA circles for a long time, including the Jazz after spending time observing the team during the 2021-22 season.
Stotts struggled in head coaching stops in Atlanta and Milwaukee before being hired by Portland in 2012 where he led the Trail Blazers to records of .500 or better in seven of his nine seasons with the club.
The coach was let go after a 42-30 season in 2020-21, two years after leading Portland to the conference finals.
Stotts has a proven track record offensively and made the playoffs all but one of his seasons in Portland, but made it out of the first round just three times during his tenure.
Kenny Atkinson: Golden State Warriors Assistant
Kenny Atkinson may not be on the market by the time the Jazz are making their next coaching hire as the former Brooklyn Nets head coach is reportedly a finalist for the Charlotte Hornets opening.
Atkinson’s career 118-190 coaching record would not usually draw interest from playoff teams, but after two losing seasons in Brooklyn, he led the Nets to a 42-40 record without the aid of star talent on the roster.
Since leaving the Nets, Atkinson has been an assistant under Tyronn Lue with the Los Angeles Clippers and Steve Kerr with the Warriors, two of the most well-respected coaches in the NBA.
Atkinson has a reputation as an excellent developmental coach, and may not be as highly sought-after for a team already in the playoff hunt, but will surely fill a head coaching vacancy in the next 12 months if not sooner.
Other Potential Candidates
Chris Quinn: Miami Heat Assistant
Chris Quinn has been an assistant coach under Erik Spoelstra in Miami in 2014 and has been a steady and trusted voice on the Heat bench through multiple deep playoff runs.
Quinn spent six seasons in the NBA as a point guard before moving into coaching which began immediately following his retirement.
The Miami assistant interviewed for the Indiana Pacers head coaching vacancy in 2020 and the Washington Wizards job in 2021 but returned to the Heat both seasons.
After earning the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and returning to the Conference Finals for the second time in the last three seasons, Quinn will get closer looks as a potential head coach.
Will Hardy: Boston Celtics Assistant
Will Hardy has one of the best resumes in the NBA as an assistant having spent two seasons as the San Antonio Spurs video coordinator before being promoted to the Gregg Popovich’s coaching staff in 2015.
Hardy served four seasons under Popovich before joining Ime Udoka and the Boston Celtics ahead of their Finals run this past season.
The Celtics assistant has long been on NBA radars having interviewed with the Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks, and Pacers in recent seasons, and will likely get his shot in the near future.
Hardy wasn’t in Boston during Danny Ainge’s tenure with the Celtics, but the Jazz CEO has kept a close relationship with his former team, and that could make Hardy a name to watch.
Becky Hammon: Las Vegas Aces Head Coach
Like Hardy, Becky Hammon’s resume as an assistant with the Spurs under Popovich has already put her name on the radar as a potential NBA head coach.
Hammon interviewed with the Trail Blazers in 2021 and was a finalist for the job before Chauncey Billups was selected.
After being passed over for the Portland opening, Hammon accepted the head coaching position of the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA and was named Coach of the Month after leading the Aces to a 9-1 May.
Hammon is the first coach in WNBA history to earn the honor in their first month overseeing a team, and she will likely be interviewed for future NBA openings due to her recent success.
Kevin Young: Phoenix Suns Assistant
After a trip to the NBA Finals, followed by earning the top record in the NBA, Monty Williams’ Phoenix Suns coaching staff is a likely hotbed for future head coaches.
That includes lead assistant Kevin Young who joined the Suns in 2020 after stops with the 76ers and throughout the G League.
Young may be a familiar name for basketball fans in the state of Utah as he oversaw the Jazz then D-League affiliate Utah Flash in 2010 before taking over the Iowa Energy and Deleware 87ers.
The Suns assistant also happened to be born in Utah though he played high school and college basketball in Georgia.
Adrian Griffin: Toronto Raptors Assistant
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, another name to watch is Toronto Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin.
After a nine-year career as a player, Griffin began his NBA coaching tenure under Scott Skiles with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Griffin also served under Thibodeau with the Chicago Bulls before rejoining Skiles with the Orlando Magic for one season.
Billy Donovan hired Griffin as his lead assistant with the Oklahoma City Thunder before joining Nick Nurse’s staff in Toronto.
Pie In The Sky Option
Erik Spoelstra: Miami Heat Head Coach
NBA head coaches rarely make lateral moves, and after leading the Miami Heat to the Conference Finals, taking a job with the Jazz would have to be considered a step-down for Erik Spoelstra.
However, if the Jazz believe they are still in the conversation as contenders and aren’t ready to enter the rebuilding phase, why not kick the tires on the Miami mastermind.
The Jazz have a connection to Spoelstra through minority owner Dwyane Wade who played for Spoelstra in route four Finals appearances and two NBA titles.
Spoelstra also had an ugly run-in with Heat star Jimmy Butler late in the season that could weaken the relationship in Miami, though the two were able to reconcile their differences during their deep playoff run.
Again, Spoelstra remains a pie in the sky option for the Jazz, but with Ainge and Wade’s championship resumes, and owner Ryan Smith’s commitment to winning, why not see who is willing to pick up the phone for an interview?
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