Boston Celtics assistant Will Hardy has accepted an offer to coach the Utah Jazz, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said Tuesday.
Hardy and the Jazz were in the process of finalizing contract language, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither party announced the deal publicly.
Hardy will become NBA head coach for the first time. He will replace Quin Snyder, who decided to leave the Jazz earlier this month after eight seasons.
ESPN and The Athletic first reported Hardy’s deal with the Jazz.
Hardy spent a season in Boston, helping the Celtics reach the NBA Finals. His previous 11 seasons were spent with the San Antonio Spurs, starting as a basketball operations intern, moving into the video room and eventually becoming an assistant under all-time leader and five-time NBA champion Gregg Popovich.
Hardy also helped Popovich during USA Basketball’s appearances at the 2019 Basketball World Cup and Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Hardy left San Antonio for Boston to work for another former Spurs assistant, Ime Udoka, who took the Celtics to the Finals in his first season as head coach.
And given the success of the Popovich training tree in the NBA, it’s no wonder the Jazz decided Hardy was the right rookie.
Consider the list of current NBA and WNBA coaches who have played for, worked for, coached under Popovich, or a combination thereof.
Golden State’s Steve Kerr is coming off his fourth title as a coach – beating Udoka, Hardy and the Celtics in this series – and ninth championship overall. Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer led the Bucks to the 2021 NBA title. Phoenix’s Monty Williams guided the Suns to the NBA’s best record this season and reached the Finals last year. Memphis’ Taylor Jenkins led the Grizzlies to the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference this season. Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers won an NBA title, Sacramento’s Mike Brown made the NBA Finals in his second season as head coach at Cleveland, and Becky Hammon gave the Las Vegas Aces the best start in the league. WNBA in its first season.
Obviously, those who learn from Popovich know how to win.
And Hardy has been wearing the can’t-miss coaching label for some time.
“It was always about being selfless,” Hardy said during an appearance at a Rising Coaches seminar last year. “Coach Pop is always like, ‘Get a hold of yourself. It’s not about you.
Utah was the only NBA team to have a vacant coaching position and became the fourth team to hire since the end of the regular season. Sacramento signed Brown, the Los Angeles Lakers signed Darvin Ham, Charlotte brought back Steve Clifford for a second stint and now the Jazz are handing their team over to 34-year-old Hardy, who is younger than some NBA players.
Hardy also inherits a roster capable of winning.
The Jazz are one of three teams to have made the playoffs in each of the past six seasons; Boston (with eight) and Milwaukee (six) are the others. Utah has won 49 games this season and Snyder went 372-264 with the Jazz.
But he decided he needed a change, and Utah embarked on his process. The Jazz spoke to several assistants from across the NBA before selecting Hardy, who will become only Utah’s fourth coach in 33 years – after Jerry Sloan, Tyrone Corbin and Snyder.
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