The words “Utah” and “Jazz” never came up during the Monday afternoon news conference in Atlanta that saw Quin Snyder introduced as the Hawks’ newest head coach.
From him or his questioners.
But the 35ish minutes he spent addressing the media were filled with many of the greatest hits from the eight seasons he spent in Salt Lake City before his sudden resignation this past June: He talked about opportunities to learn and grow, and the desire to improve. He discussed character and relationships, unselfishness and instinctiveness, trust and respect. He even threatened to “get pretty granular” in discussing specific basketball nuances.
He seemed to obliquely reference his time with the Jazz (and elsewhere around the league) by noting that his previous experience working in “fantastic organizations with some really, really talented people” helped him establish some parameters for what he wanted out of his next stop.
“It just made a lot of sense to me to take this opportunity,” Snyder said.
Snyder said the Hawks had “the character in the front office” that he was seeking.
General manager Landry Fields noted that the process of hiring the team’s next head coach was able to be streamlined because, as they were firing Nate McMillan, the team’s front office had already assessed what qualities and characteristics it wanted from his successor.
They pretty quickly zeroed in on Snyder, who wound up being the only candidate that Fields formally interiewed.
The coach’s relationship with Hawks assistant GM Kyle Korver helped get the process going in earnest.
“When we made our change with Nate, I had Kyle give Quin a call. He was our first call,” said Fields.
Snyder and Korver obviously knew one another well, having spent time together with both the Hawks and Jazz. But the coach wanted to research the rest of the front office and the ownership group more extensively.
What ultimately sold him, he explained, was “the innovation, the creativity, the intelligence, and more than anything, just the strong vision for what it means to build something that takes your sweat equity.” He was also impressed by the Hawks’ proper balance of optimism and realism.
That latter delineation is notable, considering the Hawks’ presently bloated payroll and relative pittance of future draft capital, given the haul of first-round picks required to acquire Dejounte Murray this past summer.
In short, he knows there is significant roster re-working to do.
Snyder went 372-264 as Utah’s coach between the 2014-15 and ‘21-22 seasons, and led the Jazz to six straight playoff appearances. Still, he was not on board with the team’s planned rebuild this season and decided to step aside.
Once he did, he resolved to spend as much time with his family this season as possible. He knew he wasn’t ready to retire yet, and anticipated that he might be at his next stop for an extended period, and that he’d be throwing himself into it fully, so he wanted to make his family time count.
So then, why join the Hawks with 21 games remaining this season, rather than simply wait until this summer?
He believed he could help make an impact immediately, as the Hawks try to improve upon their current standing as a play-in team, and he also saw an opportunity to jump-start the process of he and the players getting acclimated to one another.
“As I thought about it, the opportunity to come in now, although maybe challenging, is also maybe an opportunity to go on a run,” Snyder said. “And [it’s] also an opportunity to begin to build a foundation, a culture. … The opportunity to really accelerate the building of relationships. … I didn’t want to wait until next year to do that.
“… Players want to get better. Players want to get better, and they want to be coached. And relationships are what allows you to coach effectively,” he added later. “It’s part of the reason I wanted to start now. Our group needs to just decide to trust each other.”
That trust, he explained, must be multi-faceted: Players trusting each other on the court, players learning to trust him, he and the front office personnel developing trust in one another.
The core values he will seek to instill are unselfishness, respect, competitiveness.
As for how he can best deploy his infamously expansive playbook to best utilize the Hawks’ roster, he admitted he’s still learning the personnel, and that he’d have to rely heavily on the existing coaching staff to help him get up to speed as he deep-dives into film.
In the interim, he noted it would be more about making subtle tweaks than an immediate substantive overhaul.
“The last thing I want to do is put too much in their heads to where they stop being instinctive,” Snyder said.
Getting their collective journey underway sooner rather than later, getting in the “foxhole” together, as he put it, would give the Hawks a head start in developing that requisite trust.
“Going through those things — you want to go through them, you’re gonna go through ’em eventually, and that’s what builds the character of the team, is those moments, whether it be success or failure,” Snyder said.