Quin Snyder is in health and safety protocol; Alex Jensen will coach Utah Jazz vs. Wolves

Jensen will be in charge of the team during a regular season game for only the second time in his career, after Snyder was ejected in the fourth quarter vs. Charlotte in 2019.

Minneapolis • Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder will miss Sunday night’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, as he has returned a positive rapid test for COVID-19 and entered the NBA’s health and safety protocol.

Alex Jensen, who’s been the team’s lead assistant since the 2018-19 season, will coach the Jazz.

Snyder was present at the team’s morning shootaround at Target Center, but was ruled out of the game in the afternoon.

Jensen, a Utah native, has been on the Jazz staff since 2013. This will be his first time leading an NBA team from the opening whistle. He previously took over for Snyder when the head coach was ejected in the fourth quarter of a game in Charlotte on Dec. 21, 2019.

Jensen’s only prior head coaching experience came with the then-D-League’s Canton Charge (he was named D-League Coach of the Year in 2013) and heading up some of the team’s Summer League entries.

Jensen said in Sunday’s pregame media session that he doesn’t expect much to change, as the Jazz remain without stars Donovan Mitchell (concussion) and Rudy Gobert (left calf strain), and added reserves Trent Forrest (right ankle sprain) and Danuel House (health and safety protocol) to the injury report as well.

“One of the advantages of being together is the continuity of it all. The guys know what we’re doing, and as a staff, we know what we’re doing,” Jensen said. “So hopefully it won’t be too much different with Quin out.”

He said that, with all the injuries and illness situations the team has been through of late — the Jazz were the last team in the NBA to have a player or coach go through the protocol, but have been hit hard since Joe Ingles tested positive on Jan. 4 — they’ve “gotten really good at changing the game plan.”

He’s hopeful that this rough patch (the Jazz come into the game against the Wolves having lost four straight and 10 of 12) will pay off down the line, in terms of more players getting opportunities, the team learning to respond to adversity, and developing additional option out of necessity they might not have considered otherwise.

Jensen said that with a number of other head coaches having been in the protocol already, he prepared as though it might be a possibility that it could happen to Snyder. He noted that his boss has the entire team and coaching staff well-prepared (including a few conversations post COVID revelation), so this shouldn’t be a big issue.

“We’re lucky that we have the players we do, but it’s my job not to screw it up,” Jensen said. “Let them do their thing and not get in the way.”

As for who will take over Jensen’s seat as the lead assistant?

“I told them they could decide,” he said with a laugh. “Whoever gets to the chair first.”