The off-season for the Utah Jazz has been eventful. Since the regular season ended, they opted not to renew the contract for Tyrone Corbin, recently announced the hiring of Quin Snyder as their next head coach, and received the 5th pick in the NBA draft lottery. There are more moves the Jazz will be making over the course of the next few months with Snyder filling out his coaching staff, the draft, free agency and potential trades.
For fans of the Utah Jazz who want to know the latest details about the new coach and what other moves the Jazz might make in the off-season, I turned to Jazz play-by-play announcer David Locke. Locke does much more than just call the games for the Jazz. He is a year-round resource for Jazz fans with daily podcasts and regular analysis on Twitter. Fans can follow along by finding “Locked on Jazz” on iTunes, visiting <a href=”http://weareutahjazz.com/lockedonjazz/” target=”_blank”>weareutahjazz.com/lockedonjazz</a>, or following him on Twitter at @Lockedonsports.
Q: What was your initial gut reaction to Quin Snyder being named as the new head coach for the Utah Jazz?
Locke: This was the first coach that I profiled on my podcast. This was the most logical coach throughout the entire search. There were some questions: had he grown up, had he matured, having hit the bottom and climbing back up how did that affect his personality? He’s a very bright basketball mind. He has connections to Dennis Lindsey and the Spurs organization, he’s worked under the best there are, and he’s ready. He has done everything you could possibly imagine, including spending a year in Russia, to increase his basketball knowledge to be smart enough and basketball smart enough to coach 82 games. But nobody really knows that yet because there haven’t been any games.
Q: How do you grade the hire of Snyder alone vs how he puts together his coaching staff?
Locke: I’m not going to judge him in any way, which is a boring answer, because I don’t know. The hire makes sense going through the process. Once I knew he was interviewing I knew he would get the job, but I really don’t know what kind of a coach he’ll be. PJ Carlisimo is a wonderful man, a great basketball mind, but from everything I’ve heard once he becomes a head coach he loses it. What if he can’t handle it? I don’t know, but I think he’ll be fine. I honestly have no basis of knowing if he’ll be great. We need to give him some time. I think he’ll be smart, I think he’ll be well thought out, I think he’ll be creative, I think he’ll be innovative but let’s see what he does with the pressure of an 82 game schedule.
Q: What assistant coaches may join him on the bench?
Locke: I think you’ll see Brad Jones being talked to. He needs to make a decision if he wants to come back or go to Atlanta. I think you’ll hear the name Alex Jensen, the former Ute, who has a good chance. I would be curious to hear the name Mark Madsen. You remember the name Mark Madsen? He played at Stanford and has Utah ties, he’s LDS. I wouldn’t be surprised if he became the head coach of the D-League team in Boise. There’s a coach named Darvin Ham who has been on two staffs with Quin Snyder, one in LA and one in Atlanta. He has also been a D-League head coach. I think Quin wants to surround himself with people who have done this a little bit. If you could get a staff with Brad Jones, Darvin Ham and Alex Jensen all on it that would be three guys who have been head coaches at some level.
Q: The Utah Jazz have been conducting many pre-draft workouts. What have been some of your observations of the players who have been working out for the Jazz?
Locke: Sometimes the most interesting thing is to see the guys who just aren’t good enough. I know that’s probably less interesting than what people want to hear, that everybody’s great and when they walk in and they’re incredible athletes. But you look at guys coming through Cache Valley, someone like Jaycee Carroll who was so great and you wonder how could he not play in the NBA? Well he can’t because the league is just that amazing. You have to be overwhelming.
As an example there was a player who came in who I won’t name and was a really, really good major college player. He was all-conference but he has no chance. He’s not a good enough athlete. He takes too long to get his shot off. He was a big time player but he has no chance. The speed of the game is going to change. I think that’s what is so eye-opening when I go to these workouts is how great you have to be in order to play in this league.
Q: In a recent podcast you called this year’s draft the “I love you, but…”draft. What do you mean by that?
Locke: I watched Jabari (Parker) and I love the fact that I think he’ll probably score 20 points a game in this league. But I didn’t see him make a single play to help a team win, other than to score. He never moved the ball, never rebounded out of his area, never slid over defensively, never a hustle play, it really worries me. It makes me wonder if he’ll be Glen Robinson or if he’s going to be 20 points-a-game Carmello Anthony. That’s a very big deal, and I love him because he’s going to score 20 points a game.
Aaron Gordon is the most amazing athlete. He is 18 years old. His body moves with efficiency. He sees the floor, he passes, he has a handle that is elite for a guy that is 6’9”. His body is only going to get bigger and stronger. But, he really can’t shoot.
Marcus Smart played so hard and cares about every possession and defensively gets into your shorts. He rotates perfectly and does mature basketball things, he does all of those so well…but he makes so many out of control, bone-head plays.
Andrew Wiggins is insane. His athleticism is out of this world. On his first dribble he gets by guys every time. He’s going to score 20 every time if he can figure out how to shoot better. He’ll be like a Tracy McGrady. He doesn’t lack much. But because of Bill Self’s system, when you ask him to take over games it is more to ask of him. That is more a problem of college basketball. When I see talent, I feel like collegiate rule set and talent level surrounding these players prevents them from using their skills. What Andrew Wiggins will do when he gets on the floor with four other talented players will be awesome.
Joel Embiid, you love him but he’s inexperienced and he might have a bad back. Julius Randle has more of an upside. Noah Vonleh is really young. My point here, besides being a very long answer, is that this was a very hyped draft. And the people who hyped it were right. These players have amazing, out of this world skills that have the capability of being All Stars, which is hard, and top 5 of their position in this league. We have started to see them enough to start to pick them apart. Is there another Kevin Durrant? Is there another LeBron James? No. But there are only two of those. Frankly we have only had about five of those since 1979 that are of the quality of LeBron, Durrant, Michael, Magic, and Larry. There’s not one of those guys in this draft why? Because we’ve only had five of them in the last 35 years.
Q: What might the Jazz do in free agency or through trades?
Locke: I would be very surprised if the Jazz made a big splash through free agency. I think we’re going to look for three players who are able to lead and give some guidance to our younger players. Assuming we don’t make a trade, which is a bad assumption, we have five young players and add the fifth pick in the draft that makes six. We have a seventh in the 23rd pick of the draft. I would suspect they would expect the 2nd round pick to play. Well, let’s hold that at seven because one of those may play in Europe.If that’s seven players, you’d like to re-sign Marvin (Williams) so that’s eight players.
You’re running out of spots and you’re running out of minutes if you’re going to develop these players. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if you’re going to see some movement to limit that number. But then also go sign a veteran point guard or make a trade with Houston to acquire Omar Asik, styled like what happened with the Golden State Warriors where we take some of their money so they can go make a free agent pick up and we get draft picks for the future.