Gordon Chiesa: A ‘Wild Card’ Utah Jazz Hire Could Come From College Ranks

Jun 10, 2022, 12:54 PM | Updated: 1:29 pm
SEATTLE - JANUARY 10: Assistant coach Gordon Chiesa of the Seattle SuperSonics talks with Earl Watson #25 during the game the Miami Heat on January 10, 2007 at Key Arena in Seattle, Washington. Chiesa filled in for head coach Bob Hill, who did not attend the game due to a respiratory problem.(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz are in a need of a head coach after Quin Snyder recently stepped down, and now CEO Danny Ainge gets his chance to make his first big imprint since joining the team.

The coaching candidates linked to the Jazz are mostly who everyone thought, plus a few surprises like former Lakers head coach Frank Vogel and G-League coach Jason Terry.

Could there be more surprise candidates down the road?

The Jazz are in a unique spot with a pair of All-Stars on the team in Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, plus they are just one season removed from having the best record in the NBA. The job could attract some high-profile candidates.

Gordon Chiesa On Jazz Coaching Search

Former Jazz assistant coach Gordon Chiesa joined Unrivaled to talk about his own list of names that the Jazz should consider. He included an out-of-the-box name in former Villanova coach Jay Wright.

Wright recently retired from the college ranks after leading the Wildcats to a pair of national titles and has also been part of USA Basketball, including coaching NBA players as an assistant for the Tokyo Olympics.

Ainge has made some unique hires and if he were to lure Wright from retirement that would fit right in with the time he hired Brad Stevens from the college ranks.

“He hired a guy for the Celtics a long time ago from Butler University with Brad Stevens who had no NBA experience but a terrific coach. Let’s fast forward now to 2022. A wild card could be Jay Wright of Villanova,” Chiesa said. “He has head coaching experience for decades. He worked for the NBA Olympic teams. He’s around NBA basketball. He’s had so many guys in the NBA as we speak right now that he coached. He might be a guy if Danny Ainge could do that again, he might consider that.”

It doesn’t seem likely that the Jazz will go after Wright. It’s not even clear if he wants to leave retirement. This would be Wright’s first job coaching in the NBA and that would be quite the adjustment after spending decades in the college ranks.

What Type Of Coach Do The Jazz Want?

Chiesa spent well over a decade with the Jazz as an assistant coach and knows the city, organization, and the NBA very well. The coach that Utah ultimately brings in needs to have the characteristics to get the Jazz players to do things they may not be comfortable with.

The Jazz lost too many games with double-digit leads this year and that is just one thing that needs to change if this franchise is going to take the next step. The coach is there to make players better and not be afraid to tell them like it is.

“Be demanding without being demeaning,” Chiesa said. “You’re asking multi-millionaires to do things that they don’t want to do innately. I said this for decades that the head coach of an NBA  is that you’re the last warrior in that person’s life because everyone else around them is telling that person how great he is and also there’s ‘no you can’t do that.’ The head coach of an NBA team has to be disciplined without discipline. You’re not really a true coach.”

Chiesa also notes that if the Jazz want to bring in free agents that July 1 is an important date to make a hire, but the Jazz have said there is no rush for them to get a coach as they want to make sure they hire the best person for the job.

Tune into Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 3-7 p .m. on 1280 The Zone and 97.5 FM, or subscribe to the podcast. Also, download the all-new KSL Sports app on iOS or Android.

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