Jazz President of Basketball Operations Dennis Lindsey transitions into advisory role

General manager Zanik moves to the top of the team’s power structure.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey speaks with the media following their season-ending game at the team practice facility on Thursday, April 25. 2019.

Utah Jazz president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey left his spot atop the Jazz’s basketball totem pole on Sunday night, leaving general manager Justin Zanik in charge of the team’s front office.

Lindsey will move into an advisory role to the team.

“In recent years, I have had conversations with the Miller family and then Ryan Smith when he came on board about moving into an advisory role. This is an appropriate time to make the transition with the organization on such solid footing. I am proud of the progress we have made in raising our level of competitiveness in the Western Conference,” Lindsey explained in a statement.

“We have built sustaining infrastructure around the team from enhanced performance analytics and upgraded training facilities to the local presence of the Salt Lake City Summer League and Salt Lake City Stars,” Lindsey continued. “I greatly value the many individuals that I have worked with and the players who have been a part of the Jazz during my tenure. I look forward to making contributions to the Jazz in a different way, while enjoying more time with my wife Becky and our four children.”

The news, first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, signals a significant change in the power structure atop the Jazz’s front office. Lindsey was hired in 2012 as general manager of the Jazz under former Jazz executive Kevin O’Connor, and has helmed the team since the 2013-14 season.

Under Lindsey’s stewardship, the Jazz rose from a team at the bottom of the Western Conference to the No. 1 seed, albeit with some playoff disappointments in recent years. He was responsible for the draft-night trades that led to the acquisition of stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, along with high-value bargain-basement pickups like Joe Ingles and Royce O’Neale. Free agency signings of Bojan Bogdanovic, and trades for George Hill, Ricky Rubio, and Mike Conley are among his other major moves.

Zanik, in his role as GM, will run the club — using advice from Lindsey, head coach Quin Snyder, and the team’s analytics and scouting departments.

Since acquiring the team, new ownership helmed by Qualtrics founder Ryan Smith was said to be interested in making changes to the team’s front office. Former Celtics front-office head Danny Ainge, who Smith knows well, could also be involved in the team’s future, but reports from The Athletic indicated that Ainge wouldn’t usurp Zanik’s role at the top of the organization’s power structure were he to be brought on board.

Zanik began his career in basketball as a player agent, first with Priority Sports and Entertainment, then with ASM Sports. He joined the Jazz in 2013 as an assistant general manager, and, aside from spending the 2016-17 season in the same capacity with the Milwaukee Bucks, had filled that role with the Jazz until he and Lindsey were both promoted in May 2019. In effect, Lindsey still had final say on the team’s decisions, but that now changes.

“Dennis Lindsey has had an incredible impact on the organization, and we are grateful for his dedication to the Utah Jazz,” Smith said in a statement. “We look forward to his contributions as an advisor to the Jazz and to Justin Zanik’s ongoing leadership as general manager. As an organization, we are committed to continuing our pursuit of excellence and will relentlessly work to achieve sustainable success and win championships.”

Snyder also chimed in on Lindsey’s move.

“I greatly appreciate that Dennis believed in me and gave me the opportunity to be the head coach of the Utah Jazz,” Snyder said. “He was extremely committed to my success, our players’ success and he built a roster that continually put us in position to grow and to contend. I am and will remain grateful for the time spent working with him.”

This story will be updated.