The Utah Jazz made a significant hire Tuesday afternoon — and not just the selection of Celtics assistant Will Hardy as their new head coach.
Following close on the heels of the Hardy news came a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the team was hiring longtime NBA coach David Fizdale for the position of associate general manager.
Fizdale, who’s spent 18 years in the NBA as either a head or assistant coach, had reportedly been among the 15 candidates the team initially interviewed for its coaching vacancy, following the resignation of Quin Snyder earlier this month.
However, the organization wound up finding a different spot for him, and he will now work closely alongside CEO Danny Ainge and GM Justin Zanik.
Fizdale has deep ties to Jazz minority owner Dwyane Wade, having spent years together in the Miami Heat organization, with Fizdale as an assistant coach and Wade as a player.
“Another great basketball mind!” Wade wrote on Twitter in sharing the news.
NBA superstar LeBron James, who played with Wade in Miami, and actress Gabrielle Union, who is married to Wade, both took to Twitter to voice support for the hire.
Fizdale’s hiring is just the latest change to the organization’s front office structure.
The first domino fell when the Miller family, which had owned the team for 35 years, sold it to Qualtrics founder Ryan Smith in October 2020. In June 2021, president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey resigned his position, after being the team’s top decision-maker since being hired as GM in 2012.
In the aftermath of Lindsey’s move, others soon followed, with the team declining to retain longtime director of pro player personnel Dave Fredman, and promoting former director of pro scouting Marquis Newman. Assistant GM David Morway, who joined the team in 2017, also stepped away.
This past December, Smith lured Ainge out of retirement following his long tenure running the Boston Celtics, and appointed him CEO and alternate governor of the Jazz.
The 48-year-old Fizdale is a Los Angeles native who spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach under Frank Vogel with the Lakers.
He broke into the coaching business back in 1998 when he was hired as an assistant by his alma mater, the University of San Diego. He then became an assistant at Fresno State, from 2002-04. He then made the leap to the NBA, serving assistant coaching gigs with the Warriors, Hawks, and Heat.
In May 2016, he was hired as head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, and led the team to a 43-39 record. He was fired 19 games into the next season, following an eight-game losing streak and a much-publicized spat with star center Marc Gasol.
He was hired as head coach of the Knicks in May 2018, and the team struggled to a 17-65 record. He was fired early the next season when New York struggled to a 4-18 start.