After eight seasons as the head coach of the Utah Jazz, Quin Snyder stepped down and resigned much to the dismay of the franchise and CEO Danny Ainge.
The Jazz hired Snyder for his first NBA head coaching job at the start of the 2014-15 season. In eight years, Snyder amassed a 372–264 record as head coach.
Snyder grew up on Mercer Island, Washington, and led his high school team to the state championship in 1986. He spent the next four seasons as the point guard of the Duke Blue Devils and made three Final Four appearances.
After his playing career ended, Snyder earned a law degree at Duke while also working as an assistant under Coach K. In 1995, Missouri hired Snyder for his first head coaching gig. He went 126-91 in six-plus seasons, which included four trips to March Madness and an Elite Eight appearance in 2002.
After leaving Missouri, Snyder spent time in NBA as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers, LA Lakers, and Atlanta Hawks before the Jazz tapped him to replace Ty Corbin in 2014.
The coaching change in Utah didn’t alter the futures market because the Jazz remain steady at +4000 odds to win the 2023 NBA Championship.
Snyder: ‘time for a change’
During the second half of the NBA season, we reported that Snyder could leave the Jazz when he was rumored to become the next head coach of the Lakers or San Antonio Spurs. Snyder withdrew his name for contention in LA when the Lakers made Frank Vogel the scapegoat of their awful season. It looked like Snyder would stick around Salt Lake City until he announced his resignation.
Snyder indicated that both he and the Jazz needed a change because he’s been unable to elevate them to the next level.
“It was time,” said Snyder. “Time for the Jazz to move forward. Time for me to move forward. It just made the most sense to me.”
The Jazz qualified for the postseason in each of the past six seasons, but they never advanced to the conference finals with three second-round exits and three first-round eliminations, including this season. Snyder posted a 21-30 postseason record with the Jazz.
“We have spent the last few weeks talking, Quin and I, a lot about a lot of different things,” said Ainge. “We desperately wanted him to stay. And at the same time, I’ve walked away from coaching and I walked away from being a general manager after 18 years in Boston, and so I trust that Quin knows more what’s best for him and his family, much more than we do.”
Who will coach the Jazz?
The Jazz are now looking for a new head coach to replace Snyder. The Charlotte Hornets narrowed their head coaching search down to Mike D’Antoni or Kenny Atkinson, so it makes sense that the runner-up will be the leading candidate for the Jazz job. Atkinson was a finalist for the Lakers job, but he ultimately lost out to Darvin Ham.
Terry Stotts, former head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, is also on the shortlist. He was also a finalist for the Lakers, and he has experience coaching in the Western Conference.
Whomever the Jazz pick, they’re in no rush to find a new head coach, even with the NBA Draft looming.
“We’re going to take our time,” said Jazz owner Ryan Smith. “Got to get it right.”
“There’s a lot of names I know and I’m familiar with in the coaching world,” said Ainge said. “This will be much different than the two previous, and probably more thorough.”
Alex Jensen is also a likely candidate. Jensen was the top assistant under Snyder, so he could get the job if the Jazz decide to promote from within the organization. Johnnie Bryant, another former assistant under Snyder, is currently an assistant under Tom Thibodeau of the New York Knicks. Bryant is also on the shortlist to replace Snyder.
Of course, there’s a long list of former head coaches who could get plucked for the Jazz vacancy, including David Fizdale, Mark Jackson, or Luke Walton.
Whoever replaces Snyder will become only the fifth head coach of the Jazz since they relocated from New Orleans to Utah.
Spida trade rumors
The next head coach of the Jazz will have to figure out how to smooth things over between Donovan “Spida” Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. The huge rift between the players is probably the real reason why Snyder bounced.
There’s no shortage of rumors that Mitchell doesn’t want to play with Gobert, so either Gobert goes or Spida goes. There’s also a scenario in which the Jazz decide to implode the team and reboot from scratch, which means they’ll trade both Gobert and Mitchell.
Snyder and Mitchell were close, and Snyder is the only head coach that Mitchell has played for in the NBA.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Snyder’s resignation didn’t sit well with Mitchell and that the All-Star was “unsettled, unnerved and wondering what it means for the franchise’s future.”
Prior to Snyder’s departure, Mitchell hinted that he wants to play for the New York Knicks. His father played pro baseball with the New York Mets and he grew up in Westchester, not too far from the Knicks practice facility in Tarrytown.
Mitchell is under contract for four more seasons, so his only way out of Utah is to force a trade. The Jazz have indicated they don’t intend to trade Mitchell, but the Knicks have plenty of young players and a high draft pick in the 2022 NBA Draft that could change the conversation.