Ainge, Smith Hint At Extended Jazz Coaching Search

Jun 6, 2022, 2:22 PM
Danny Ainge, Ryan Smith, and Quin Snyder discuss the Utah Jazz coaching future (Deseret News: Kristen Murphy)
(Deseret News: Kristen Murphy)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz will begin a new coaching search after Quin Snyder decided he was stepping away from the team on Sunday.

Snyder oversaw the Jazz for eight seasons including six consecutive trips to the postseason, leaving big shoes to fill for his successor.

Though owner Ryan Smith and CEO Danny Ainge both expressed their desire to see Snyder return to the team, the team’s brain trust offered their thoughts on the Jazz’s upcoming coaching search.

Smith was brief but firm on how the Jazz would conduct the search.

“We’re going to take our time,” Smith said. “Got to get it right.”

Smith didn’t offer a timeline, nor what the team would look for in their next hire, but if his history as the Jazz owner is any indication, he won’t shy away from making a splash.

Smith dished out several hundred million dollars in contracts during his first summer with the Jazz to retain the services of Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley, and Jordan Clarkson.

When the team decided to replace Matt Harpring on the television broadcast, Smith and the Jazz brought in Holly Rowe, a national name who was already working for ESPN.

After Vice President of Basketball Operations Dennis Lindsey stepped away from the team, Smith hired Ainge to serve as the Jazz CEO, a major shakeup for a team that was coming off a season in which they recorded the best record in the NBA.

Smith teamed with Mike Cannon-Brookes and Ryan Sweeney when purchasing the Jazz, both heavy hitters in the work of tech, only to lure future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade into the Jazz ownership group months later.

While the coaching search will be made up of a mixture of available past head coaches and the top assistant in the NBA, don’t be surprised if Smith eyes a bigger target for the Jazz.

Ainge made just two coaching hires during his time overseeing the Boston Celtics, a good sign that he has an eye for competent talent.

First Ainge brought in Doc Rivers who proved to be a championship-winning hire, and then recruited former Butler head coach Brad Stevens to join the NBA ranks where he led the Celtics for eight seasons.

Despite his previous success, Ainge hinted at a different coaching search with the Jazz.

“I’m in a position where I haven’t really been looking to the same extent for those coaches,” Ainge admitted. “There’s a lot of names I know I’m familiar with in the coaching world, but this will be much different than the two previous ones. Probably more thorough.”

Several candidates have already been mentioned, including former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, former Jazz assistants Alex Jensen and Johnnie Bryant, and other top assistants around the league like Boston’s Will Hardy, and Toronto’s Adrian Griffin.

However, with the NBA Draft on the horizon, and free agency soon after, Ainge’s hands will be full restricting the team roster, which would extend the length of the Jazz coaching search.

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