Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) General manager of the Utah Jazz Dennis Lindsey is surrounded by the media as he attends Media Day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013.
Utah Jazz: Does Mike Longabardi fit profile of next Jazz coach?
Utah Jazz » Suns assistant coach Longabardi is known for defense, analytics.
First Published May 09 2014 01:02 pm • Last Updated May 09 2014 11:56 pm

There wasn’t a specific moment for Jeff Van Gundy.

When the ESPN analyst and former Houston Rockets coach was asked about his onetime assistant coach, Mike Longabardi, Van Gundy said the current Phoenix Suns assistant has gotten to where he is not with flash, but through hard work and gritty determination.

At a glance

Mike Longabardi file

» Spent this past season with the Phoenix Suns as Jeff Hornacek’s lead assistant

» Spent six seasons in Boston under Doc Rivers, and four in Houston under Jeff Van Gundy

» Began NBA career as a video coordinator

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"It was just very steady with him," Van Gundy said. "Mike was great each and every day on the job, and I think that always followed him. He was such an effort guy that he made himself into a great assistant."

An assistant who may just be next in line for an NBA head coaching job, and who may just fit the template for the kind of coach Utah Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey is looking for.

In Phoenix, under former Jazzman and assistant coach Jeff Hornacek, Longabardi has emerged as a defensive guru and a devotee of analytics. Just the kind of guy, perhaps, who might be a good fit for the Jazz’s young, talented roster.

Longabardi certainly has the pedigree. Under Van Gundy in Houston, he worked on a staff that included Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. He then followed Thibodeau to Boston, where the two worked under Doc Rivers for six years — including the Celtics’ 2008 championship season. And he wound up running Rivers’ defense when Thibodeau moved on to Chicago.

Under Hornacek this past season, the 41-year-old helped turn the Suns into one of the better defensive teams in the NBA.

But for Longabardi it all really started in Houston, where he began his career as a video coordinator on those Rocket teams led by Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. Van Gundy said Longabardi rose quickly enough that he was soon taking on assistant coaching responsibilities, even if his paycheck didn’t initially reflect that.

Jazz point guard John Lucas III, a former Rocket, says Longabardi was an inspiration for the younger players.

"It shows the hard work and dedication he had," said Lucas. "Me and him, we both kind of took the same journey of having to succeed at every level. Mike has been under so many great coaches and he’s watched and learned and communicated with all of them. He knows what plays to run. He knows when to call timeouts. He’s learned a lot, and I think he’s ready for the next step."


story continues below
story continues below

Will that next step be with the Jazz?

The Salt Lake Tribune has learned that the two sides have yet to make contact, but Lindsey says he and his staff are still in the process of identifying candidates they want to reach out to.

"We’re working hard on the internal due diligence and we’ll have an ability here very soon to react quickly, or go through a very thorough and prolonged search," Lindsey said.

Whether it’s with the Jazz or not, Van Gundy believes Longabardi is ready to take the next step.

"Whenever the time is right, he will be a very good coach in this league," he said.

tjones@sltrib.com

twitter: @tjonessltrib



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.