Jazz Rumors: 'Rising Expectation' Danny Ainge Wants to Hire 'Young, First-Time' HC

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJune 23, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 15: Danny Ainge of the Utah Jazz speaks to the media during a press conference on December 15, 2021 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

The Utah Jazz are reportedly leaning toward hiring a head coach with no previous NBA head coaching experience.

According to NBA insider Marc Stein, there is a "rising expectation" within NBA coaching circles that Jazz CEO Danny Ainge wants to hire a "young, first-time coach" following the resignation of Quin Snyder.

Stein added that Boston Celtics assistant Will Hardy and Phoenix Suns assistant Kevin Young are two candidates believed to have made a "strong impression" on the Jazz thus far.

Snyder recently made the somewhat surprising decision to step down as head coach of the Jazz after eight seasons.

He went 372-264 during his time in Utah and led the Jazz to the playoffs in each of the past six seasons. Playoff success largely eluded Snyder and the Jazz during that time, however.

The Jazz never advanced past the second round of the playoffs during Snyder's tenure, and they were ousted in the first round three times, including last season.

A new voice was perhaps needed to guide Utah's talented roster to greater success, and Snyder's departure has opened the door for that to happen.

Whoever takes over as head coach of the Jazz will inherit one of the NBA's best rosters from top to bottom assuming no major trades are needed.

All-Star center Rudy Gobert and guard Donovan Mitchell are both under contract for next season, as are Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson.

It is possible that the Jazz may need to trade one of their top players in order to shake things up, but a new coach could serve the same purpose.

In terms of head coaching interviews, the Jazz have indeed focused largely on those who haven't been a head coach in the NBA before.

Along with Hardy and Young, the Jazz have interviewed Toronto Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, Miami Heat assistant Chris Quinn, New York Knicks assistant Johnnie Bryant, Milwaukee Bucks assistant Charles Lee, Celtics assistant Joe Mazulla, Dallas Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney, Detroit Pistons assistant Jerome Allen, Philadelphia 76ers assistant Sam Cassell and G League head coach Jason Terry.

Utah has also interviewed a couple of in-house candidates in assistants Alex Jensen and Lamar Skeeter.

The Jazz haven't completely shied away from former NBA head coaches, though, interviewing former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel.

Jensen and Skeeter could have an inside track given their experience with the team, but if the Jazz want to go completely outside the organization, Hardy may make the most sense.

Hardy is just 34 years old, but he has extensive experience in the NBA, spending 11 years with the San Antonio Spurs, including five as an assistant coach.

He joined the Celtics last year shortly after Ainge retired from his role as Boston's president of basketball operations, but given how long Ainge played for the Celtics and worked in their front office, he still has strong ties to the organization.

Ainge can likely get all the intel he wants from the Celtics regarding Hardy, and if the reviews are positive, he has to be considered one of the strongest candidates.