Rumor: Celtics assistant Will Hardy leading candidate for Jazz coaching job

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As the interview process has gone on, the buzz around the Jazz coaching search is that they were looking at top young assistant coaches for the job, not automatically looking for someone who has already sat in the big chair. Call it the Ime Udoka effect — he had a very impressive first season at the helm.

It may be one of Udoka’s top lieutenants — assistant coach Will Hardy — who is on top of the list, reports the well-connected Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune.

…it looks like the team’s decision-makers are favoring the younger assistant coaches in their search for a new leader. In particular, it’s Celtics’ assistant Will Hardy that is considered by many league insiders to be a leading candidate at this point.

Hardy is young, 34, and comes out of the very fruitful Gregg Popovich coaching tree. Hardy started in the video room for the Spurs, learned under experienced assistant coaches such as Brett Brown, and worked with Popovich. Hardy was also on the Team USA coaching staff in Tokyo (with Steve Kerr, among others). Hardy followed Udoka to Boston last season, helping the Celtics advance to the NBA Finals.

Hardy is not a lock for this job — Larsen mentions Kevin Young of the Suns as a candidate as well — but Hardy shows the model of a young, up-and-coming coach that Danny Ainge and the Utah front office are looking for to replace Quin Snyder, who stepped away after last season.

What the roster will look like for the new coach in Utah is also up in the air. It’s going to be an interesting summer in Salt Lake City.