Quin Snyder was a fixture with the Utah Jazz for eight seasons — the last six of which saw them qualify for the playoffs, before he suddenly resigned this past June.
The team was set to make massive changes, to go an entirely new direction, and he decided not to be a part of it.
Now, after spending most of this season on the sideline, it appears that Snyder is set to make his return to the NBA. Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields confirmed Wednesday that the ex-Jazz coach is indeed a candidate for their job, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday morning that Snyder and the Hawks “are progressing in talks on a deal to make him the franchise’s next coach.”
Here’s a quick look at some of the issues surrounding Snyder’s potential comeback.
The compensation question
Because Snyder resigned from the Jazz with time left on his contract, and because the Hawks are reportedly looking to bring Snyder in ASAP to supplant interim coach Joe Prunty, who’s been filling in since head coach Nate McMillan was fired on Tuesday, it’s been thought that Utah’s front office could technically seek compensation (in the form of draft assets or cash) from Atlanta to free Snyder up — such as when the Celtics received an unprotected 2015 first-round pick from the Clippers for Doc Rivers.
Turns out, it’s not entirely clear if the Jazz are entitled to compensation, and a source who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to discuss the details said it’s a moot point anyway because the team doesn’t intend to pursue the issue. That will effectively free Snyder to join the Hawks immediately if he wishes.
The source explained that while the timing of the move is a bit unusual, Snyder not currently having a role in the organization (as opposed to Rivers being the Celtics’ head coach when he made his move to the Clippers) made the Jazz inclined to not hold up the process of his departure in any way.
In effect, because he is not their active head coach, they are content now to simply sever their ties with him completely, thus allowing Snyder to accept whichever job best suits him and his family.
Why right now?
It’s something of an unusual situation in that teams do not typically bring in new coaches from outside the organization midseason.
Two years ago, the Minnesota Timberwolves fired head coach Ryan Saunders in February and hired Raptors assistant Chris Finch to replace him. Lionel Hollins, a longtime Grizzlies assistant and two-time interim head coach, was working for the Bucks in 2008-09 when Memphis fired Marc Iavaroni, then brought in Hollins to replace interim coach Johnny Davis.
So why might Snyder be joining the Hawks immediately?
Well, from an organizational perspective, Atlanta is looking to salvage what’s been a disappointing season to this point.
The team swung a massive offseason trade to acquire former All-Star guard Dejounte Murray from San Antonio, hoping to rocket up the Eastern Conference standings and contend for an NBA championship. However, heading into Friday’s games, the Hawks are just 29-30 overall — eighth place in the East. They are 21st in the NBA in opponents’ scoring (116.7), and 22nd in opponents’ field-goal percentage (47.8%). While they are a top-10 scoring offense, they are among the league’s worst in taking and making 3s.
Snyder had the Jazz among the NBA’s top-10 in both offense and defense on multiple occasions, and sometimes in the top five of both as well.
So, why the Hawks?
It certainly makes sense for Atlanta to pursue Snyder immediately, as they have a chance to get out in front of other teams and land the hottest coaching commodity on the market.
But why would Snyder choose Atlanta now, rather than picking from other options when more jobs inevitably open up this offseason?
Well, Atlanta does have a bit of talent on its roster. Star guard Trae Young has developed a bit of a reputation around the league for being a difficult personality, and he is having a down season efficiency-wise, but he remains prodigious in both scoring and passing. Murray and De’Andre Hunter are considered ascending two-way talents. Clint Capela is a Rudy Gobert Lite — a rim-running, rebound-grabbing big man. The team also has theoretically useful pieces in John Collins, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Onyeka Okongwu, and rookie AJ Griffin.
Snyder also has some familiarity with both the city of Atlanta and with the Hawks organization.
His final season before joining the Jazz was spent as the lead assistant to Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta. Meanwhile, Snyder has a strong relationship with Hawks assistant general manager (and former Jazz sharpshooter Kyle Korver). He is also said to be close to one of the Hawks’ minority partners in the ownership group.
The chance to get going immediately in a place he knows well may simply be a more appealing option for Snyder than the uncertainty of playing wait-and-see.