The Utah Jazz are making progress in their search for a new head coach.
The first round of interviews — which has included a long and expansive list — is nearing a conclusion, league sources tell The Athletic. The Jazz spent all of last week speaking to candidates. They expect to speak to a few more in the coming week, before narrowing a list to potential finalists, according to sources.
Utah interviewed longtime NBA player and current G League coach Jason Terry on Saturday, according to sources. The Jazz interviewed Milwaukee Bucks assistant Charles Lee on Friday. Lee was promoted to associate head coach on Saturday by Milwaukee, but remains a candidate for Utah’s open position. The Jazz also interviewed internal candidates Alex Jensen and Lamar Skeeter, key assistants on outgoing head coach Quin Snyder’s staff, in recent days.
Among the candidates who have also been interviewed: Toronto Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin; New York Knicks assistant and former Jazz assistant Johnnie Bryant; Miami Heat assistant Chris Quinn; Former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts; Detroit Pistons assistant Jerome Allen; Phoenix Suns assistant Kevin Young and Boston Celtics assistant coach Will Hardy.
The Jazz don’t have a timetable for naming a new coach. But, sources say they feel as if they are almost halfway through the process. If Utah doesn’t have a coach in place by summer league, Jensen is expected to lead the team in Salt Lake City and in Las Vegas.
The timing of a new hire means something. If the Jazz make a hire the week of or before the NBA Draft, which is in less than two weeks, then they can structure their roster for next season with that coach in mind. But, even if that doesn’t happen, there’s a chance Utah will be far enough down the road in their search to where they can make educated decisions, with a few people in mind.
Utah’s predraft process has been thorough for a team that currently doesn’t own a pick. The Jazz have held multiple workouts in an attempt to identify prospects for their summer league team, ones that may fall through the cracks. Utah also held a free agent mini-camp, in which forward Alize Johnson was a standout. The Jazz plan to hold another free agent camp in the coming days.
A favorite for the vacant head coaching position hasn’t separated itself. The Jazz were pleased with the interviews and the talent of the coaches they have already spoken with. Jensen is a favorite of the players and has significant experience, even if he hasn’t landed a head coaching job. Bryant remains an obvious name to watch for. But the Jazz want to take their time and thoroughly vet everyone on their list.
It’s adding up to a busy month for the Jazz front office, now balancing the search for a new coach against the backdrop of significant decisions that need to be made with the roster. With almost everyone on the roster available to varying degrees, the Jazz expect to be heavily involved in trade talks. Whether they actually make a move remains to be seen.
At this point, however, the Jazz are an organization very much in transition.
(Photo of Ryan Smith and Danny Ainge: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports)