Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder once quipped, “I don’t know if you can tell a coach’s years in dog years, but it works something like that.”
And a lot has been packed into those coach’s years.
Snyder just completed his eighth season with the Jazz, making him the fourth-longest tenured in the NBA. He is, by essentially every measure, the second-most successful coach in team history, behind only Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan. He has also fallen short of his and the team’s ultimate goals: the Jazz have yet to advance past the second round of the NBA playoffs during his time as top dog.
With change at the highest levels of the organization, and change expected throughout the roster, it’s a fair question to ask: will Quin Snyder be the Jazz’s head coach next year?
What we know about Quin Snyder’s contract so far
Perhaps the most important part of this conversation is Snyder’s contractual status. The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported that Snyder has one more year left on his deal, signed in 2019, to coach the 2022-23 season. At Snyder’s option, he could pick up the 2023-24 season on his contract as well. (We’re not necessarily used to hearing about coach’s options in contracts, but he has one.)
It’s relatively common practice in the cutthroat NBA for coaches to be fired before a coach finishes his contract, therefore paying out the remainder of the salary owed, but the Jazz don’t want to do that, either.
As general manager Justin Zanik represented the Jazz’s position, “I don’t know how I can make it any more clear: Quin Snyder is one of the best coaches in the NBA. There is no other partner that I would rather have as a coach, a leader of our players, and as a partner in the front office than Quin Snyder.”
Players seem to agree. Even in the hours after the team was eliminated in Game 6 against the Dallas Mavericks, the team’s two lead scoring guards were overwhelmingly positive.
“I love Quin. He’s a guy that gave me an opportunity when I first got here — entrusted in me, believed in me,” Donovan Mitchell said.
“He’s a great coach. You want to play with him, you give him credit for what he does,” Jordan Clarkson said. “He’s a mastermind at putting those Xs and Os together.”
Snyder, himself, had positive things to say about his situation as he spoke with reporters this week.
“I’m privileged to coach a great group of players. I’m reminded of that consistently throughout the year,” he said. “… Additionally, from an ownership standpoint, I appreciate the things that Ryan [Smith] is doing. I have great respect for him and his vision for the franchise. Working with Justin [Zanik] and Danny [Ainge] has been great. Obviously have tremendous respect for them.
So why all of this discussion?
Because no extension has been agreed to as of yet. The Tribune’s Gordon Monson reported that Snyder has not turned down an extension offer from the Jazz, instead, that simply no talks have taken place as both parties decided to save that for this offseason. Still, neither party wants to go into the 2022-23 season with just one year of team control left — the phrase “lame-duck coach” doesn’t inspire much confidence when so much may change with the roster.
When The Tribune asked Snyder about the Marc Stein report that other teams might be interested in him as their coach, he didn’t directly deny the rumors. He called the rumors “inappropriate,” but fell short of dismissing them fully by saying that he wanted to coach the Jazz moving forward.
“I’ve continued to maintain that I’m not going to discuss my contractual situation publicly,” Snyder repeated this week. “That’s just not something that I want to do or am comfortable doing.”
There had been also been lot of past-tense verbiage being used in the final days of the season. After losing in Game 6, Snyder said, “It’s been a pleasure coaching this group.” In the interview with The Tribune in March, Snyder said “I’ve just felt, you know, embraced and supported by this community. And I’m really appreciative of that support throughout the course of eight years.”
“I’ve loved my time with Quin,” Jazz center Rudy Gobert said. “There’s always going to be talk about a lot of things, especially when you have a disappointing ending like we did this season. ... Whatever the front office does, it’s out of my control.”
But tense might not be the most telling in the end.
“My family has loved it here,” Snyder said at his exit interview with the press this week. “And don’t judge my tense when I speak. My family loves it here. How’s that? Whether it’s school, the community, Salt Lake City, the experience continues to be a great one.”
Is there really a better landing spot for Quin Snyder?
That being said, if Snyder did want to leave, it’s a little bit difficult to find a better situation for him. There are two teams without a head coach: the Los Angeles Lakers and the Charlotte Hornets. Neither made the playoffs.
The Lakers have the most star power of the three, and perhaps have had the loudest voices tying them to Snyder — but it’s hard to see the private Snyder being attracted by the hullabaloo and the messy decision-making process in Lakerland. As Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer wrote Tuesday, “pessimism persists around the NBA and several sources familiar with Snyder’s thinking that Los Angeles does not present an attractive landing spot for the veteran coach.”
Fischer goes on to say that Snyder “is more often linked as a possible eventual replacement for Gregg Popovich in San Antonio.” Popovich, though, has yet to publicly indicate whether he wants to coach the Spurs next season or beyond. And while it’s possible to see an upwards future for Charlotte, it’s not a particularly rosy outlook there, either.
In the end, Snyder’s decision may well rest on the moves that the Jazz feel they can make in this offseason. While certainly a playoff team, the Jazz were far enough away from contention with a healthy roster that Snyder will undoubtedly be trying to understand what CEO Danny Ainge, GM Zanik, and the rest of the front office have in store for next year’s group — and the path moving forward. A lengthy rebuild, if the Jazz were to go in that direction, may not be what Snyder wants.
And as is typical, Clarkson wrapped it up best:
“People gotta look out for themselves. It’s a business,” he said. “But I love playing for coach Quin. That’s his decision — whatever happens, happens.”
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