5 front office candidates that could make sense for the Jazz
With Dennis Lindsey stepping down from his post with the team, the organization has a vacancy. Could one of these potential candidates get the call?
The Utah Jazz are going to be making some front office moves this offseason.
The shakeup began Sunday night when Dennis Lindsey stepped down from his role as executive vice president of basketball operations into a lesser role as an adviser to the team.
Though Lindsey himself said the move was intentional, and league sources say that it was not a surprising or impulsive move, reports have suggested that tension between Lindsey and Jazz coach Quin Snyder as well as other members of the Jazz front office led to Lindsey taking a step back.
No matter the situation, Jazz general manager Justin Zanik, along with owner Ryan Smith, are going to use this as an opportunity to change some things up in the front office, so who might they look to in this time of need?
Here are five potential front office candidates that could make sense for the Jazz:
There are few basketball executives that have ties to Utah the way that Ainge does. Ainge, 62, attended and played basketball at BYU and has family members that live and work in Utah.
Despite winning two titles as a player with the Boston Celtics in the 1980s and then joining the Celtics front office in 2003, Ainge still maintains his ties and friendships across the Wasatch Front.
On June 2, Ainge announced he was retiring from his position in charge of the Celtics and has since placed his Wellesley, Massachusetts, home on the market. By all accounts, Ainge and Smith are close friends, and league sources say that it’s very possible Ainge ends up with a role in the Jazz’s front office. But, Ainge has also mentioned wanting to get away from the day-to-day grind of being a high-level basketball executive so if he takes on a role with the Jazz, it might be in more of a consultant or advisory role.
The former Miami Heat champion is the second name that has been linked to the Jazz this offseason. Battier, 42, stepped down from his role as vice president of basketball development and analytics with the Heat less than two weeks ago, though he said he would be staying on as a consultant.
That move signaled to many around the league that Battier might be available to take another front office position elsewhere. Battier is former teammates with now Jazz minority owner Dwyane Wade, and is a former Duke player, which means there is at the very least a familiarity with Snyder, also a former Duke man.
While the two people mentioned above are the ones most closely associated regarding the Jazz, and league sources confirm that those rumors have legs, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other front office executive candidates that might be of interest to the Jazz, or that the Jazz will only be bringing in a single person.
Zarren has served various roles for the Celtics, joining the team’s front office in 2003 along with Ainge. As the longtime assistant GM under Ainge, it has been reported that after Ainge’s retirement, and despite the fact that head coach Brad Stevens was named as Ainge’s replacement, that Zarren would have a lot of the decision-making power for the Celtics.
But, if Ainge put in a call to Zarren, and if Zarren feels at all looked over since Stevens was promoted to Ainge’s former position, Zarren could be lured to a different team.
If the Jazz are looking for someone that has a good rapport with Snyder and has experience in an NBA front office, they need look no further than their own coaching bench.
Demps joined Snyder’s coaching staff last offseason. He previously worked with Snyder as an executive in the San Antonio Spurs system with the Austin Toros before he was GM of the New Orleans Pelicans from 2010 to 2019.
Demps’ move from the front office to the coaching side of basketball came as a bit of a shock to the NBA world last season, but if he were to move into a role within the Jazz brass, it would be a really smooth transition and make a lot of sense.
There’s no reason to believe that Hughes is linked to the Jazz in any particularly special way, but he’s a person that is routinely brought up when front office positions open up in the NBA.
Hughes has been an assistant GM with the Los Angeles Clippers since 2017 and is widely regarded as one of the most well-liked and respected executives in the league. Other executives like him, players like him, scouts like him, coaches like him, everyone likes him. Maybe it’s because he can relate to everyone. He’s a former player, coach, scout and now is part of the Clippers brass and was instrumental in luring Kawhi Leonard to Los Angeles.
Hughes has interviewed for and been a finalist for other general manager and executive positions in the past, but has stayed with the Clippers. At some point though, he’ll want to spread his wings a little more.