It’s almost inevitable for there to be some tension between an NBA coach and the team’s general manager. The coach is trying to win now, the GM has to take a longer-term view of the roster, and that can lead to friction.
However, the friction got so bad in Utah that new Jazz owner Ryan Smith had to step in, and now long-time general manager Dennis Lindsey is out, with Justin Zanik stepping into the role and working with coach Quin Snyder. Andy Larsen and Eric Walden broke down how the Jazz front office shake-up happened for the Salt Lake Tribune in a fantastic bit of reporting.
Lindsey, hired by the Jazz in 2012, selected Snyder to be his team’s head coach in the summer of 2014 after a disappointing season from predecessor Ty Corbin. But in the years that ensued, Snyder and Lindsey’s relationship deteriorated, creating distrust between the pair that impacted day-to-day Jazz operations.
The disagreements were numerous, both on and off the court, sources said….
For much of the pair’s working relationship, Larry H. Miller Group of Companies CEO and former Jazz president Steve Starks acted as the go-between between Lindsey and Snyder, who rarely wanted to speak one-on-one.
Please read the entire story, it’s filled with fantastic details. It’s understandable that Smith would come in as owner and want to clean up that level of dysfunction, and he sided with Snyder, the winning coach that got this team the best record in the NBA this season.
The Jazz are expected to add some front office depth with Zanik. The big names are former BYU star Danny Ainge — who spent years running the Boston Celtics — or maybe new Jazz part-owner Dwyane Wade’s friend from the Miami front office, Shane Battier (as suggested by Tony Jones of The Athletic). Or, Smith could choose to go another direction entirely.
Whatever happens, don’t expect radical changes from Zanik — this is still a contending team. It could use more strong on-ball perimeter defenders, and there will be changes around the edges, but don’t expect the core of this team to look different (much of it is under contract already, anyway).
The big question for Zanik is what to pay free agent Mike Conley. The Jazz need to bring him back — they don’t have the cap space to replace him with anyone near as good — and while he’s an All-Star, he is turning 34 and battled injuries the last two seasons. What is a fair price?
There’s work to do in Utah, but the new owner has set up the structure he wants.