The Utah Jazz closing in on hiring Boston Celtics assistant Will Hardy as their next head coach, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports. Hardy has an extensive background as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs and has long been rumored as a possible successor to Gregg Popovich. He followed another former Spurs assistant, Ime Udoka, to Boston last season, and after they reached the Finals, he is being rewarded for his success with his first head-coaching job. He will be the youngest coach in the NBA next season at just 34 years old.
The Jazz had been led by Quin Snyder for the previous eight seasons, and early in the offseason, it looked like he would make it nine. However, he eventually decided to resign and take a year off of coaching, and that forced the Jazz to scramble. They went through an extensive interview process and ultimately settled on Hardy as their choice.
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The Jazz needed a change of some sort after the disappointment of the past few postseasons. Utah entered the 2021 playoffs with the NBA’s best record, and when Kawhi Leonard got hurt in Game 4 of their second-round series against the Clippers, they looked like a shoo-in for the Western Conference finals. Instead, the Clippers beat them twice in a row without their best player to send Utah home. The 2022 postseason wasn’t much better. Despite playing the first three games of their first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks without Luka Doncic, they fell behind 2-1 and ultimately lost 4-2.
The supporting cast continues to get older. Rumors of agitation on Donovan Mitchell’s part persist. The Jazz could not simply run it back next season and hope for a different result. Without a trade for either Mitchell or Rudy Gobert, a coaching change was their only opportunity to really mix things up. In Hardy, they believe they’ve found a coach who can take them where Snyder couldn’t.