SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Jazz are facing an unexpected search for a new coach.
Utah was set to enter next season with Quin Snyder at the helm until the head coach unexpectedly stepped down after eight seasons. The two sides had recently discussed an extension with Snyder, who still had two years left on his contract. They failed to come to an agreement before Snyder decided to step aside.
“We’ve spent the last few weeks talking, Quin and I, about a lot of different things. And I think it’s pretty clear, we desperately wanted him to stay,” team CEO Danny Ainge said at a press conference on Monday, a day after Snyder announced his departure. “And at the same time, I left coaching and I left the general manager position after 18 years in Boston, and so I’m convinced that Quin no longer knows what’s best for him and his family, although more than us.”
Snyder went 372-264 with the Jazz, his .585 winning percentage ranking 18th among NBA coaches who have worked for at least that long. He is one of only two coaches to have a winning record with the Jazz, Jerry Sloan being the other. Regular season success under Snyder never translated to the playoffs. The Jazz were 21-30 in playoff games under him.
“It was about time,” Snyder said. “It’s time for the Jazz to move forward. It’s time for me to move on. It just made more sense to me.
Ainge will now embark on his third coaching search as an NBA executive.
He hired Doc Rivers and Brad Stevens during his 18 years in the Celtics front office. Rivers led Boston to an NBA title in 2008 and returned to the NBA Finals in 2010. Stevens led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals three times in four seasons before taking over from Ainge in the front office.
“There are a lot of names that I know and know in the coaching world,” Ainge said. “It will be very different from the previous two and probably more in-depth.”
Team owner Ryan Smith said there was no timeline for hiring. The team doesn’t feel pressure to complete the search before the next NBA Draft.
“We’re going to take our time,” Smith said. “You have to do things right.”
Whoever succeeds Snyder will be Utah’s fourth head coach in 34 seasons. The Jazz have had only six head coaches since moving to Salt Lake City from New Orleans in 1979.
Smith’s ideal successor will be a coach who can build on the foundations laid by Snyder rather than a complete rebuild.
“There really isn’t a playbook for that,” Smith said. “I’m super lucky to be in an organization that Quin helped build. He left this organization much better than he found it. But more than that, he built a foundation on which we can build.
Although Ainge said he knows Snyder “is going to be coaching somewhere else in the near future, probably next year,” Snyder declined to say how soon he expects to take another coaching job.
“That didn’t occur to me at all. I just focused on that,” Snyder said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do next year as far as training next year or anything like that.”
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