Utah Jazz Possible Acquisition of Will Hardy of Boston Celtics

Jun 30, 2022

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The Utah Jazz are reportedly closing in on a deal to hire Boston Celtics assistant Will Hardy as their next head coach.

Will Hardy, the person set to take over as head coach of the Utah Jazz, has all the credentials of someone who is impressively qualified to lead an NBA team.

It was noted that Hardy emerged as a front-runner for the position after Jazz CEO Danny Ainge led an extensive search that “included former head coaches, top assistants, G League coaches and former players.” And that reported the sides are working on a five-year contract.

Hardy replaces Quin Snyder, who stepped down after eight seasons. Snyder served as the Head Coach of Utah Jazz. Over Snyder’s eight seasons with the Jazz, he compiled a 372-264 record and missed the playoffs just two times.

Utah is coming off a 49-33 season that ended with a first-round playoff loss to the Dallas Mavericks. It was a disappointing result for a team that started 27-10 before floundering down the stretch with a 22-23 record.

A year earlier, Utah rolled to first in the Western Conference standings with a 52-20 record but fell to the No. 4 seed Los Angeles Clippers in the conference semifinals.

The pieces are in place for Utah to bounce back and make a deep playoff run. Donovan Mitchell will be just 26 years old when the season starts, and he has already made three All-Star teams. The talented ex-Louisville shooting guard averaged 25.9 points last season.

Center Rudy Gobert remains one of the best defensive players in the game. He’s a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and a six-time member of the All-Defensive First Team.

The Jazz also sport good depth in the backcourt and on the wings with Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanovic. They helped Utah earn the No. 1 most efficient offense in the NBA last year, per Basketball Reference.

More work needs to be done to the roster, but the pieces are there for improvement.

It will be Hardy’s job to get it done, and he has the resume and background that could foreshadow great success in Salt Lake City.

He played at Williams College and graduated in 2010. He joined the San Antonio Spurs out of college and worked as a basketball operations intern (2010) and assistant video coordinator (2011). He became the Spurs’ video coordinator and worked in that capacity until 2015.

He also worked as the head coach of Spurs NBA Summer League teams from 2015 to 2018 and served as an assistant under Gregg Popovich until 2021 before moving to Boston and working on Ime Udoka’s staff.

Obviously, he worked his way up through the NBA ranks, from an intern in the film room to a leading role in video coordination then through player development coaching until he was made an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs. He is a branch on the widely respected Gregg Popovich coaching tree, he was Celtics head coach Ime Udoka’s first choice for an associate when he took over in Boston, and Hardy has garnered head coaching buzz for a couple of years now.

Nevertheless, beyond the credentials, a couple less tangible things that needed to be considered when Jazz brass were choosing who would lead their team after the departure of Quin Snyder.

Who is going to be able to command this locker room and earn the respect of the players? In addition, will they be able to do that in both the immediate and extended future?

There were many people who thought the Jazz would take what was considered the easy route in this coaching search — hiring someone that the stars of the team were familiar with or someone who had already walked on the coals as a former head coach in the NBA. That the Jazz took an alternative route is proof alone they believe Hardy has the tangible and intangible qualities that they are looking for.

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