Since we heard the news that the Utah Jazz were not going to renew the contract of former head coach, Tyrone Corbin, we began looking at other possible head coaching options. We’ve already done profiles on European coaching legend Ettore Messina, former University of Utah head coach Jim Boylen, and our most recent is Atlanta Hawks assistant coach Quin Snyder. Another name that has been brought up in rumors is Phoenix Suns assistant coach, Mike Longabardi.
Longabardi started off his NBA career back in 2003 as an assistant video coordinator for the Houston Rockets. Later on he became an assistant coach under current ABC/ESPN NBA analyst, Jeff Van Gundy. Longabardi was able to spend two seasons on the bench with Van Gundy before heading off to a new gig.
The new gig that he was heading off to was to be an assistant coach for Doc Rivers with the Boston Celtics. Longabardi spent six seasons in Boston and in that time went to three appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals, two trips to the NBA Finals, and one NBA Championship in 2008.
The thing that is the most attractive about Longabardi is his defensive schemes. While in Boston, Longabardi’s main focus was being the defensive coordinator. In his time there, he helped coordinated one the league’s top defenses. The Celtics ranked among the best in the NBA in most major defensive categories.
Longabardi has also spent a little bit of coaching time in the college ranks. He has been an assistant coach for four different small colleges before he joined the Rockets staff. However, he’s never gotten the opportunity to be called head coach.
Longabardi is interested in a head coaching job. When coming to Phoenix, he said the following in one of his questions.
My goal is, hopefully, one day become a head coach. I don’t know if that’s going to happen or not; only time will tell. But I know if I do probably get an opportunity it’s going to have to be in a situation where you’re going to have to start from the ground up.
If Longabardi was going to become the next head coach of the Jazz, he would be in the middle of a rebuild, but I don’t necessarily believe he would be starting from the ground up. The Jazz have a pretty solid young core that shouldn’t take long to develop.
When being interviewed about taking the job in Phoenix under former Jazz man Jeff Hornacek, Longabardi was asked what his strengths were and where he was going to best help the team. His response:
My schemes and defensive background is obviously something that interests Jeff. We know what we want to do. We want to protect the paint; and they obviously didn’t do a good job of that last year. We just got to try and improve on that. We want to then defend the three, which we have to do a better of that. And then we want to defend without fouling, which I thought getting a taste of these guys in summer league that was one thing we could’ve done a better job of. And then the most important thing is finishing with the rebounds.
Jazz general manager, Dennis Lindsey, is looking for a guy that has a great defensive mind. He also is looking for a guy that is big on analytics. I’m not sure if Longabardi is big on the analytics thing or not, but I do know that he is big on defense. Judging from what he said he wants to do on defense with Phoenix, that is something the Jazz need to do. I think Longabardi could be a good head coach in the league because of that defensive mind. He will hopefully be one of the 20 plus people that the Jazz interview, and judging by his short but impressive resume, he might have a shot.