Quin Snyder doesn’t sound like a coach who is planning an exit, instead looking to the future of the Jazz
Snyder didn’t come right out and say that he will remain the Utah Jazz’s head coach; he plans to be ‘exhaustive’ in analyzing how the team can improve
Quin Snyder wouldn’t come right out and say whether he plans to remain at the helm as the Utah Jazz’s head coach. But as he was peppered with questions from local reporters on Monday afternoon, there were indications that Snyder doesn’t intend on leaving and that he is thinking about the future of this Jazz team.
Though his gait was slowed, walking with crutches into an interview room at Zions Bank Basketball Campus less than a week removed from a hip replacement surgery, Snyder’s wit and way with words were as quick as ever.
The last time we’d heard from Snyder was just following the Jazz’s Game 6 exit from the playoffs. That night, after the Dallas Mavericks had handed the Jazz a first-round drubbing, Snyder noted that he has “loved” coaching this team and that it “had” been a privilege. Local and national media members alike pointed to his use of past tense words.
So, when Snyder was asked outright to address the rumors about his tenure being over in Utah and what he wanted moving forward, he had a little fun with the most recent narrative.
“First of all I want to say — and I’ve said this before, but it’s worth saying again — my family has loved it here. And don’t judge my tense when I speak,” he said with a smile before continuing. “My family loves it here. How’s that? Whether it’s school, the community, Salt Lake the city, the experience has been, and continues to be, a great one.”
He went on to express his fondness and respect for Jazz owner Ryan Smith as well as point to a happy working relationship with CEO Danny Ainge and general manager Justin Zanik. Beyond that, Snyder said that he continues to enjoy his position.
“I’m privileged to coach this group of players and I’m reminded of that consistently throughout the year. We’re all not perfect, but I’m grateful for that and I really like our players,” he said. “Beyond that, I think I’d continue to maintain that I’m not going to discuss my contractual situation publicly. That’s just not something that I want to do or am comfortable doing.”
But then as he was asked about what needs to be done in order for this team to get better, considering the disappointing ending, Snyder seemed to already be thinking about the next steps.
“I’ll watch the film, we’ll meet with Danny and Justin, and I’ve already done some of that with our staff, kind of impromptu, which is good to the extent that you feel the emotion and some of your short-term feelings,” he said. “Then you either debunk them or you find other ones or whatever the case may be. But I think that that whole thought process is something that has yet, obviously, to occur on the level that it will. You’re not satisfied. You have aspirations to be better and win more, and that’s what we’ll try to do.”
Whether or not Snyder wants to talk about his contract and if he plans on signing an extension or how long he plans on staying with the team, his answers certainly don’t sound like those of a man planning to make an exit.
All that being said, Snyder’s end-of-season interview was largely reflective and he painted a picture of a team that was emotionally spent when everything came to an unceremonious conclusion at the hands of the Mavericks.
“That shows itself on the court with your execution as well,” Snyder said of the emotional impact of the season’s ups and downs. “You can’t have a team that plays without emotion. I think emotion can be incredibly valuable — it can provide you resolve and strength and at the same time, like most things, if you become too emotional, you can lose focus.”
He intimated that the last three seasons have all kind of felt like one giant season with how COVID-19 impacted the league and everyone’s lives. And that along the way he said he felt like the Jazz “were this close to just having a spark and kicking it in and finding that unity, whatever it was that kind of extra secret sauce and taking off. And obviously that didn’t happen.”
“I’m privileged to coach this group of players and I’m reminded of that consistently throughout the year. We’re all not perfect, but I’m grateful for that and I really like our players.” — Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder
There was the suspended 2019-20 season, the Orlando bubble and then the abbreviated 2020-21 season in which the Jazz were the No. 1 regular-season team, only to have injuries leave them all wondering what could have been.
Last season ran deeper into the summer than any before and was quickly followed by a whirlwind offseason, and before everyone had much time to breathe, the 2021-22 season was under way. And this season was a roller coaster for the Jazz with injuries, roster changes, COVID-19 still impacting the league, expectations from the outside, turmoil on the inside, and then again the Jazz came up short.
Now, with a complete offseason and the NBA back on its normal calendar schedule, the analyzing and critiquing and planning can begin in earnest.
“You want to kind of give it time to breathe, and then you want to be exhaustive in how you look at that,” Snyder said, pointing out the need to be responsive rather than reactionary. “We got smaller, we added shooting, but we weren’t as good defensively. Try to maximize this, now go tilt back the other way, say we need more of this. Where is that line? And I think that is something that requires a lot of focus and then having an opportunity to kind of map it out and see what it looks like.”
Just as Zanik did when he met with reporters last week, Snyder offered very little in the way of concrete examples of how the team could improve, and what the team would be looking for as the draft and free agency approach. But on multiple occasions Snyder took the opportunity to say that he wants more, that the team wants more, that collectively “we want more.”
“The overarching thin red line that goes through my answers is that you’re not satisfied,” Snyder said. “No one is satisfied, the fans aren’t satisfied. And you reach a point where you want more, and that’s the nature of sport, that’s competition. So, we’ll try to do that.”
Unless there is an unexpected change of heart and the front office decides it is going to go in a completely different direction — which would be a departure from what we have been led to believe — it seems as if Snyder is planning to move forward with the Jazz and see if the team can strike a balance, find that spark and come away satisfied with the results.