Multiple outlets reported Tuesday that the Utah Jazz are finalizing a deal to make Boston Celtics assistant coach Will Hardy their next head coach.
Who is Hardy? Here are some things to know — and what others have said — about the 34-year-old.
- Hardy grew up in Richmond, Virginia, before playing basketball collegiately at Williams College, a small Division III liberal arts school in Massachusetts. Listed by Williams at 6-foot-6, Hardy was a wing player (he wore No. 43), although no stats from his time there are readily available.
- In 2010 after college, Hardy landed an internship with the San Antonio Spurs. According to a story by The Oklahoman’s Joe Mussatto, it came at least in part as a result of the fact that he knew Curtis Tong, a former athletic director at Williams who knew Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich from their shared time at Pomona-Pitzer College in California.
“I told Curt I was looking for somebody in the film room and that I needed a smart guy, and I knew there were a lot of smart guys at Williams,” Popovich said, according to a story by the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach.
“I asked if there were any players there that showed an affinity toward coaching, or seem to have a natural ability. He immediately told me, Will Hardy. And I respected the guy so much that I said, ‘OK, done deal.’ And out came Will.”
Later in that story, Popovich is quoted as saying, “And before long, he became the head of it, the guy that I depended on,” Popovich said. “If I wanted the post-ups or pick-and-rolls or to know why we sucked at something last night, he’d come in and say, ‘Well, look, this is what they did.’ He’d break it down for me.”
- By 2013, Hardy had risen to be San Antonio’s video coordinator, a job he held until 2015, when he was named an assistant coach with the team.
- Before long, Hardy became known as a rising star in the coaching profession, and has for several years been mentioned as a potential successor to Popovich with the Spurs whenever the 73-year-old decides to retire.
- In 2018 when he was 30, Hardy made his first appearance on an annual list compiled by ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz of potential future head coaches, and in 2020, Arnovitz wrote the following about Hardy:
“In the ongoing NBA parlor game “Who’s Going to Succeed Pop?” San Antonio assistant Will Hardy is a morning line favorite. Steeped in Spurs gestalt, Hardy, 32, has performed just about every function imaginable in the organization, from grinding in the video room to deep immersion in the Spurs’ player development apparatus to summer league coach and now the bench.
“Adored by the brass and courted by the Warriors in 2017 for their G League opening, Hardy has a deep understanding of modern basketball and the flexibility it demands.”
- Last summer, however, Hardy took a detour when he returned to Massachusetts to become an assistant coach with the Celtics under their new head coach, Ime Udoka. The two have a long history together, as Udoka played for the Spurs during Hardy’s early days with the organization, and then Udoka was an assistant there from 2012-2019 before leaving to become an assistant with the Philadelphia 76ers.
- As the Celtics were making their run to the NBA Finals this spring, Arnovitz’s annual list once again included Hardy.
Wrote Arnovitz: “NBA head coaches don’t just preside over rosters and playbooks; they manage a 12-month calendar of various contours and responsibilities. It’s difficult to find anyone who has worked with Will Hardy in San Antonio and now Boston who doesn’t believe Hardy, with his attention to detail and feel for the craft, is well-equipped to grapple with both the macro and micro components of that calendar.”