Mar 4, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Alvin Gentry (right) argues with NBA referee Brian Forte during the game against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking Down The Utah Jazz’s Short List For Head Coach


It was reported a few days ago by Jody Genessy of the Deseret News, that the Utah Jazz have a short list of coaching candidates. The short list contains Quin Snyder, Adrian Griffin, and Alvin Gentry. Those are the names we know of, so far. There could be more names added to this list, but for now, this is what we have.

On Monday night, ESPN reporter, Ramona Shelburne, reported that Alvin Gentry was getting his chance at a follow up interview with the Jazz this week.

So now that we have a few names that are being broken out as someone we could possibly see on the Utah Jazz sideline next season, what do each of these guys bring to the table, and are they a good fit with the Utah Jazz? Let’s break it down a little bit.

Quin Snyder

A few days ago, it was reported that Snyder, who is currently an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks, would get a second interview with the Jazz. Snyder has been an assistant coach for a few different places including the Hawks, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, the University of Duke, and a stint with CSKA Moscow. While with CSKA Moscow, Snyder was an assistant under another guy who has been rumored in Jazz coaching talks, Ettore Messina.

Snyder has never had a head coaching job in the NBA, however, he has had a couple head coaching jobs that were successful. Snyder got his first coaching gig with the University of Missouri, where he coached the Tigers for seven seasons. In those seven seasons, Snyder led the Tigers to four NCAA tournament appearances, including one trip to the Elite Eight. Snyder’s other head coaching job came when he coached the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League. While there, Snyder posted a winning percentage of 62.7%, led the Toros to three straight playoff appearances, the 2008 NBDL Championship game, and was named the 2009 NBDL Coach of the Year.

As most Jazz fans know, the Hawks had a few ex-Jazz members on their team this season. One of those former Jazz men is DeMarre Carroll. As most fans know, Carroll had a great year playing for the Hawks this season. One of the reasons that Carroll was able to be productive was because of the help of the coaching staff, according to Carroll, particularly coach Snyder.

Q. How do you personally assess your growth as a player?

A. I think I did really well. This is like the first year – I have to give a shout out to coach Quin (Snyder) – this is the first year a coach really worked with me on my footwork, my shot, spent time with me. That’s a credit to coach Quin. That shows me that he cares about me as a person, cares about my career. I think I’m headed in the right direction. I feel like a rookie. I finally got to play and do what I do. There is a lot of room for growth for me. I’m just trying to get better.

Snyder has a pretty impressive resume. He has coached under some great head coaches in his career, has had success in the D-League, and seems to be able to relate to his players relatively well. The question is, however, will he be able to do the same as a head coach of an NBA team, or will he be a guy who should just stick to being a really good assistant coach?

Adrian Griffin

Griffin was also reported to be coming in for a second interview with the Jazz. Currently a head assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls under Tom Thibodeau, Griffin could be a legitimate candidate if he wants to preach defense like coach Thibodeau does.

Griffin has been in quite a few places in the NBA as a player. Griffin played nine seasons in the NBA that included playing for the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, and Seattle Supersonics. During those nine seasons, a stat that fans might find the most impressive, is that Griffin was able to make it to the postseason in five of his nine years. That success could help him as a head coach, knowing what it takes to get to the playoffs.

Before coming into the NBA, Griffin spent one season overseas in Italy. He also spent three seasons in the CBA, where he was named league MVP and Finals MVP while playing with the with the CBA champion Connecticut Pride in 1998-99.

Griffin has only been with two teams as an assistant coach in the NBA. However, with those two teams, he got a chance to learn from some good coaches in Thibodeau and Scott Skiles. Being able to work under those two guys is something that Griffin believes is something that will help him.

I have been learning a lot in this role, this is my sixth year. I learned under Tom, I learned under Scott Skiles and overall, it is great to see how things work in an organization, especially an organization like the Bulls. That’s something I could bring to any team. ~ Adrian Griffin

So what could Griffin bring to a team as a head coach if hired? To me, he could bring a lot of the same things that Thibodeau does in Chicago, mainly defense. According to the Bulls head coach, Griffin will bring a lot to a team.

I am hopeful that he’ll get more consideration, head-coaching opportunities. He has done a terrific job, he is strong in all areas, he is a great communicator, leader, and a great teacher. I’m hopeful, I’m hopeful for him, I think he’s deserving. ~ Tom Thibodeau

Griffin, like Snyder, has a pretty impressive resume, with the highlight being that he has gotten a chance to learn from one of the league’s best coaches in Thibodeau. He, like Snyder, has potential as a head coach. However, never actually being a head coach, and only having assistant coaching experience with two NBA teams for a short period of time, could raise some questions on whether or not Griffin is the right man for the job.

Alvin Gentry

Gentry is the only guy out of the three that has had head coaching experience in the NBA. Gentry has spent time being a head coach with four different NBA franchises. His stints as a head coach include the Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Clippers, and the Phoenix Suns. With those four franchises, Gentry has a career coaching record of 335-370, a winning percentage of .475.

Gentry’s best season as a head coach came in the 2009-10 season with the Suns. That season, Gentry guided the Suns’ to a 54-28 regular season record, and a trip to the Western Conference Finals, where the Suns fell in six games to the Los Angeles Lakers. One of the main reasons that the Suns were able to be as good as they were that season was due to a healthy Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire, Grant Hill, and Jason Richardson. Also, the Suns were ranked first in points per game (110.2 ppg) and offensive rating (115.3).

One of the things that could be attractive to the Jazz front office, is Gentry’s ability to get his team to score points. In fact, over his 12 year head coaching career, Gentry has ranked in the top half of the league in offensive efficiency nine times, including finishing in the top five of the league three times. Gentry’s teams had an average offensive efficiency of 106.7. Compare that to the Jazz’s offensive efficiency rating this season of 103.5, and you can see that he could help out a bit on that end of the court. Currently as the head assistant coach with the Clippers for Doc Rivers, Gentry helped Doc lead the Clippers to first in the league in points per game (107.9 ppg), and first in the league in offensive efficiency (112.1).

As much of a help Gentry could be on that side of the ball, his lack of defense could keep him away from the Jazz sidelines. Gentry, as mentioned, has a 12 year head coaching resume. In those 12 seasons, Gentry has ranked in the bottom half of the league in defensive efficiency in 10 of those 12 years. The two seasons where he finished in the top half of the league, his teams were ranked ninth. Gentry’s teams had an average defensive efficiency of 107.0. Compare that to the Jazz’s defensive efficiency rating this season of 111.3, and you can see that his averages are a bit better than what we seen this season, but not by much, and not by the type of standards I believe Dennis Lindsey would want to live by.

When it comes to Gentry, there are advantages and disadvantages in hiring him. One advantage, is you know that the guy has coached in the NBA before, has had success in the NBA before, and can help lead a team into the playoffs and help put them in a position to score points. He has also coached some great players in Nash, Hill, Jerry Stackhouse, Andre Miller, Stoudemire, and Shaquille O’Neal. Being able to coach a great point guard like Steve Nash could be an advantage to helping the Jazz’s young point guard, Trey Burke. His offensive knowledge could also help the young big guys like Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter getting to the right spots on the floor and scoring better.

The disadvantage has to be the lack of defense that his teams usually play. This part of Gentry’s coaching is something that Lindsey could say is the deciding factor. Defense wins championships, and if Gentry’s teams don’t play defense, they won’t ever win a championship. However, Gentry could be learning a thing or two with the Clippers this season. While coaching under Doc this season, the Clippers ranked ninth in the league in defensive efficiency at 104.8. If he has learned a few things from Doc, he could implement those things into the Jazz’s defensive schemes and turn the Jazz, and his lack of defensive coaching reputation, around.

The short list of these three coaches is intriguing to say the least. Two guys don’t really have the head coaching experience, but have a lot of other coaching experience from top coaches that could help push them to a great head coach. The other guy has head coaching experience and a reputation that is good, but not great. Could any of these three guys help push the young Utah Jazz to the next level? All three have the potential, but with all three, their is still a question mark that surrounds them.

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Tags: Adrian Griffin Alvin Gentry Quin Snyder Utah Jazz

  • jazzskinag

    Why is no one talking about Nate McMillan? He should definitely be on at least a preliminary list. Smart, successful both as a player and a coach, and a really good guy.