MINNEAPOLIS — The month of January has been the hardest of the 2021-22 NBA season for the Utah Jazz and things just got a little more difficult.
On Sunday, the team announced Jazz head coach Quin Snyder and Danuel House, with the team on 10-day contract, both entered the league’s health and safety protocol after returning positive COVID-19 tests.
Assistant coach Alex Jensen will step in as acting head coach in Snyder’s absence.
“I’m lucky that we have the players that we do, so it’s my job just not to screw it up,” Jensen said ahead of the Jazz’s Sunday night matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves. “It’s been a rough patch but I think we’ve actually learned quite a bit.”
The news of Snyder and House being out for the Jazz is not only unfortunate because no one wants to have or spread COVID-19, but seems to come just as the Jazz were starting to have some good moments.
After the Jazz’s Friday loss in Memphis to the Grizzlies, despite the fact that it was the Jazz’s fourth consecutive loss and 10th in the last 12 games, Snyder had been feeling like things were trending upward for the Jazz — that even without Rudy Gobert (left calf strain) and Donovan Mitchell in the lineup (concussion) the team had been competing at a high level and learning some new things.
That’s not to say that things will stop with Jensen at the helm, but it’s another disruption the team will have to deal with.
Maybe more disappointing is that House, who had been playing substantial minutes for the Jazz, only has limited time with the team. He first signed a hardship 10-day contract with the Jazz after Joe Ingles entered the health and safety protocols earlier this month. Following the conclusion of that deal, he has signed consecutive standard 10-day deals with the team, currently in his second.
Per NBA rules, a player can not play on more than two 10-day contracts with a single team. If the Jazz want to continue with House on the roster, they would have to sign him to the roster for the rest of the season. House’s current 10-day deal expires on Feb. 8.
“It’s hard because especially with having guys out, you get the minutes and we’d be able to see him a little bit more,” Jensen said of House, as he searched for a silver lining. “Hopefully this will all benefit us sometime going forward to the end of the year.”
Jensen intimated that the Jazz have felt like at every turn this month you start to see things turn in a good direction, but then they get knocked right back down whether because of injury or COVID-19 or the schedule or any other number of issues.
The Jazz return home after Sunday’s game for a six-game home stand.