Quin Snyder’s departure may have felt sudden, but the Utah Jazz won’t be rushed to replace him.
“We’re going to take our time. We gotta get it right,” team owner Ryan Smith said at Snyder’s farewell news conference this week.
“We have big shoes to fill,” team CEO Danny Ainge added.
And who might fill them, as the Jazz conduct their first coaching search in eight years?
“I have my ideas, but we really haven’t discussed it internally with the rest of the staff, or with Ryan,” Ainge said. “... I have a few [in mind], but I’m not sure I even know them well enough to give you their names. But it’s the very beginning of the process.”
Here’s the all-in-one scouting report on everyone who has been named in connection with the job so far, along with odds from online bookmakers that they are, in the end, the Jazz’s next head coach.
Johnnie Bryant: 3/1
• Current associate head coach for the New York Knicks
• Former player development assistant, then assistant coach for the Utah Jazz
• Played college basketball at the University of Utah
Johnnie Bryant is one of the lead candidates for the Jazz job, thanks to his ties to Utah, and maybe more importantly, Donovan Mitchell. Bryant was the closest assistant coach to Mitchell during his time with the Jazz, helping him develop into the player he is today. But Bryant lacks true head coaching experience, and is not widely considered an Xs and Os guru. Hiring highly experienced assistants alongside Bryant could minimize those resume deficits.
Terry Stotts: 7/2
• Former head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers from 2012-2021
• Previous head coach in Milwaukee and Atlanta in the mid-2000s
• Played as a forward in Europe and the CBA, in part under head coach George Karl
Terry Stotts is a highly-respected coach, who has experience with big-time scoring guards. In his time with Damian Lillard, Stotts took the Blazers to the Western Conference Finals once, though the team was held to first-round exits in four of his first five years. Stotts is generally well-liked by the players he’s coached, and is considered to have a strong Xs and Os mind, though a limited roster prevented the Blazers from ever reaching true contention. Stotts also spent time with the Jazz last year, essentially as an observer — people like him here.
Frank Vogel: 6/1
• Former head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic, and Indiana Pacers
• Took the Lakers to the NBA title in the bubble season of 2020, and the Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals
• As an eighth-grader, went on Late Night with David Letterman, showing off his skill of spinning a basketball on a toothbrush while brushing his teeth.
Vogel has had more championship success than anyone on this list, with the caveat that it came with stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way. Vogel’s most recent Lakers season went less well as they team ignited in dysfunction, but he’s still a well-regarded, defense-first NBA head coach with experience all across the basketball spectrum.
Alex Jensen 7/1
• Former G-League Coach of the Year with the Canton Charge in 2013
• Started for the University of Utah under Rick Majerus during the team’s 1998 title-game run
Jensen is highly regarded around the league as an assistant coach, starting his Jazz tenure under Ty Corbin before being adopted by Snyder for his entire eight-year run. Jensen moved his way up, in large part to his solid Xs and Os knowledge. He also has a very tight relationship with All-NBA center Rudy Gobert, which may work with him — or against him, if Gobert were to be traded.
Mike D’Antoni: 7/1
• Former head coach of the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Houston Rockets
• Currently a coaching advisor for the New Orleans Pelicans
• Became Olimpia Milano’s all-time leading scorer during successful Italian career
D’Antoni’s has pushed basketball forward at least twice: once when he was coach of the Phoenix Suns, when his “Seven Seconds or Less” strategy pulled the NBA out of the post-Jordan doldrums. Then, in Houston, D’Antoni’s James Harden-centric strategy changed thinking on how much a star could be relied on offensively. Could he do something uniquely effective with the Jazz, too? It may be worth talking to him to find out what he’d have in mind.
Charles Lee 8/1
• Current assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks
• Former assistant coach for the Atlanta Hawks, also under Mike Budenholzer
• 37 years old, played internationally for four seasons before starting his coaching career at Bucknell
Lee is a well-regarded young assistant coach who was also interviewed by the Los Angeles Lakers for their vacant coaching position before they went with another Bucks assistant, Darvin Ham. He was also a candidate for the New Orleans and Washington jobs in the 2021 offseason. “I’m a big ‘power of positivity’ guy,” Lee told The Athletic. “Daily improvement — how can we make sure that we’re just making everyday matter?” You could have believed that quote came from Snyder himself.
Adrian Griffin 9/1
• Current assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors
• NBA wing for the Celtics, Mavericks, Rockets, Bulls, and Sonics during a 10-year NBA career
• Father of Duke star AJ Griffin
Griffin’s been on the cusp of being an NBA head coach for long enough that he was interviewed for the Jazz’s job when it was open in 2014. He was an assistant for the Bulls then, and has also coached in Oklahoma City and Orlando before joining the Raptors’ staff in 2018. In 2020, Griffin’s ex-wife accused him of domestic violence in a series of social media posts; in 2021, Griffin sued his ex-wife for defamation. That case is still ongoing.
Dell Demps: 9/1
• Former New Orleans Pelicans head basketball executive from 2010 to 2019
• Played three years in the NBA, for the Warriors, Spurs, and Magic
At Monday’s press conference, Ainge said they may consult Snyder about the next coach. Demps was selected by Snyder to be one of his assistants, and by all accounts performed well in the role. Demps has also been named as a possible addition to new hire Tim Connolly’s front office with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Will Hardy: 9/1
• Current Boston Celtics assistant coach
• Former San Antonio Spurs assistant coach and video coordinator
• On Team USA staff at the 2019 FIBA World Cup
Just 34 years old, Hardy would be one of the youngest head coaches in NBA history. But the San Antonio pipeline has proven to be fruitful, and Hardy is an up-and-coming assistant. “It’s always been about being selfless. Coach Pop says all the time, ‘Get over yourself. It ain’t about you.’ No one person is bigger than this and that goes from him all the way down,” Hardy told a coaches panel in 2020.
Jerome Allen: 14/1
• Current Detroit Pistons assistant coach, former Boston Celtics assistant coach under Brad Stevens
• Former head coach of the University of Pennsylvania
• Played two seasons with the Pacers and Nuggets before a 12-year international career
Known for a unique background, Allen lived with 18 relatives in a five-bedroom house in Philadelphia growing up. But he also has been sanctioned by the NCAA, receiving a 15-year show-cause penalty from the organization in 2020 that will likely prevent him from working in the college ranks. Allen held a 65-104 record with the Penn Quakers during his six-year head-coaching tenure.
Kevin Young: 14/1
• Current assistant coach for the Phoenix Suns, former assistant for the 76ers
• Former head coach of the D-League Utah Flash and Iowa Energy
• Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, married in 2011 in the Salt Lake LDS Temple
Young was a finalist for the Washington Wizards head-coaching job in 2021, but moved up the Suns bench in this last season to take on a “associate coach” role. At 40 years old, Young is known for his work ethic, and his local ties — Young also spent a year as an assistant coach at Utah Valley University — are only likely to help.
• Current assistant coach of the Los Angeles Lakers
• Former head coach of the New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies
• Former assistant for the Hawks, Warriors, and Heat
Fizdale isn’t on the oddsmakers lists for the Jazz’s job, but NBA reporter Marc Stein mentioned Fizdale as a possible candidate on Monday. “There have likewise been rumbles for months emanating from Salt Lake City that Jazz minority owner Dwyane Wade could push the team to consider Lakers assistant coach Fizdale for the post,” Stein wrote — Fizdale coached Wade for nearly a decade in Miami. Fizdale is well-regarded by players, but holds a 71-134 record as an NBA head coach.