The news broke on Tuesday that Will Hardy had been chosen as the new head coach of the Utah Jazz, thanks to information leaked to both ESPN and The Athletic.
It wasn’t until Wednesday afternoon, though, that the team officially confirmed the news.
The 34-year-old Hardy spent this past season as the lead assistant under Ime Udoka with the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics, and the previous 11 seasons in the San Antonio Spurs organization.
Hardy, now the successor to Quin Snyder, who resigned earlier this month following an eight-year run at the helm, becomes the ninth head coach in Jazz franchise history, and the sixth since the team moved from New Orleans to Salt Lake City.
“The Utah Jazz are one of the most respected and successful franchises in the NBA and the fan base here is legendary,” Hardy said in a statement released by the team. “This opportunity comes with tremendous responsibility. I’m grateful for the trust the Jazz have placed in me and I look forward to the work ahead.”
The team did not disclose contractual terms, but it has been reported to be a five-year deal.
Hardy was a member of the USA men’s basketball coaching staff that won the gold medal at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
During his time in San Antonio, he served as the head coach of the Spurs’ teams in the Salt Lake City Summer League from 2015-18 and NBA Summer League in Las Vegas in 2017 and ’18.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, the winningest coach in NBA history, issued a statement to the Jazz in support of his latest protege to land a head coaching job.
“I couldn’t be happier that Will has been given the opportunity to lead one of the finest programs in the league in the Utah Jazz,” Popovich said. “His intelligence, his ability to teach, and most importantly his manner brings immediate respect from players, management, and staff. He’s a competitive young man who understands the responsibilities of the position and no one will work harder to continue the success the Jazz have enjoyed for so long.”
Though the Jazz reportedly interviewed as many as 15 candidates for the position, indications started to emerge last weekend that Hardy had perhaps become the presumptive favorite.
“As our search committee went through this process, Will really separated himself among a group of extremely talented candidates,” Jazz general manager Justin Zanik said in the team statement. “We’re eager to get to work with him as we continue our pursuit of bringing an NBA championship to Utah.”
CEO Danny Ainge added that Hardy’s experience with Team USA and in helping to push the Celtics into NBA championship contention this season were among the factors considered.
“Will Hardy is one of the brightest young leaders in the NBA,” Ainge said in the statement. “He understands the importance of setting a vision and creating a culture for players. He places great value on communication, player development and creating the most productive environment for players to succeed. His experience on coaching staffs that have made the NBA Finals and with USA Basketball are invaluable and have helped prepare him for this moment. We couldn’t be more excited for Will to lead the Jazz moving forward.”
Several of his now-former Celtics players took to social media to express a combination of disappointment at losing him but excitement for his opportunity to get to run his own team.
“Couldn’t be happier for my guy! Extremely deserving,” wrote All-NBA First Team forward Jayson Tatum.
“Man Congratulations My Guy!! Hate to lose ya man and our daily wordles but no one more deserving and can’t wait to see you lead!!” added forward Grant Williams.
Udoka also issued a statement to the Jazz in support of Hardy.
“Will has a great basketball mind. I’ve watched his growth from our time together in San Antonio and throughout our season in Boston,” Udoka said. “He was an integral part of what we accomplished and will do great things in Utah.”
Owner Ryan Smith added that while Hardy now becomes the youngest head coach in the NBA, he nevertheless brings an impressive résumé with him, which stood out in the coaching search.
“We could not be more excited to welcome Will Hardy as the next head coach of the Utah Jazz. He has incredible experience and we believe in his continued trajectory,” Smith said in the team statement. “Danny and Justin ran a comprehensive process and we are confident Will is the right head coach to lead us into the next chapter of the Utah Jazz. Ashley and I and the entire ownership group are grateful to welcome Will, his wife Spencer, and their family to Utah.”
Hardy, a native of Richmond, Va., graduated from Williams College, where he earned an undergraduate degree in English and played four seasons for the Ephs. He and wife Spencer have two daughters.