SALT LAKE CITY — A coffee shop in Texas may prove to be a good indicator of how Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder will adjust to his surroundings as the NBA is isolated for the next few months at Disney World to finish out the 2019-20 season.
As players have given a glimpse into “bubble life” over the past week via social media, Snyder was asked Tuesday evening during a Zoom meeting how his past experiences coaching the Austin Toros of the NBA G League (the D-League at the time) and CSKA Moscow in Russia might have prepared him for not having the office setup and other amenities he may have gotten used to in the NBA.
“My traditional office when I was with the Austin Toros was the coffee shop around the corner,” Snyder said, adding that he and Dell Demps, who at the time was an executive with the San Antonio Spurs before a long stint as the New Orleans Pelicans’ general manager, “had some great meetings and developed a great relationship.”
As such, Snyder said, “I don’t think it’s about the location as much as it is about the substance.”
The fact that the Orlando setup isn’t something in his control (the Jazz did make the extensive effort to transport much of the equipment in their weight room to the bubble), he said, helps give more time to focus on the things he will be able to at least help control.
“To the extent there was some different experiences that I had, I think it was more about the basketball than where we played,” he said.
That said, Snyder noted there were times when he was with the Toros that games were played in front of 50-100 people, an idea that players around the NBA will have to get used to at Disney as there will be no fans in the stands.
“You’re still playing basketball,” he said. “If there aren’t fans, I think players are going to compete regardless. It certainly will feel a little different with respect to home court, things like that, but in the end, it’s still basketball, and I think guys will be thinking about that more than the venue or the atmosphere.”
Snyder’s remarks about his past experiences were the second time Tuesday that the topics of the G League and international hoops were at the forefront of conversation regarding the Jazz organization. On Tuesday morning, Salt Lake City Stars head coach Martin Schiller, who on June 24 was named the 2020 NBA G League Coach of the Year, was named head coach of Lithuanian power BC Zalgiris Kaunas.
In Schiller’s three seasons in Salt Lake City, the Stars improved each year, winning 16 of 50 games his first campaign and then 27 the next. This season, they had a Western Conference-best 30 wins with eight games to go when the league was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. Along with Schiller’s honor, vice president of basketball operations Bart Taylor was named the league’s Executive of the Year.
Last week in a Zoom meeting with reporters, Utah Jazz executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey praised the duo, saying, “(They) got off to a tough start their first year together. They stuck together, and really, our G League is now working how we intended it when we moved it to Salt Lake City (four years ago from Idaho). ... Bart and Martin deserve kudos for a lot of hard work.”
Zalgiris has won the last 10 Lithuanian League championships and in 2018 made the Euroleague Final Four with former Provo High School and BYU star Brandon Davies a key player on the roster.
Snyder, who himself won D-League Coach of the Year honors with the Toros in 2009 and is very passionate about the league, said during Tuesday night’s Zoom meeting, “That’s a high-level job, and we’re really excited for (Martin) that he’s going to be able to make that move on a level that’s really significant.
“It’s a credit to his commitment and the things that he’s done both on the court as the coach and also developmentally with a lot of the players that are on their roster and we’ve trusted them to develop. He’s rewarded that trust with stellar results, and now he’s being rewarded as well.”