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Quin Snyder stepping down as Utah Jazz head coach

Utah Jazz v Dallas Mavericks - Game One

DALLAS, TEXAS - APRIL 16: Head coach Quin Snyder reacts as the Utah Jazz take on the Dallas Mavericks in the second quarter of Game One of the Western Conference First Round NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on April 16, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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After months of speculation around the league and weeks of meetings between the Utah Jazz front office and its coach, Quin Snyder, the rumors appear to have become reality.

Snyder will not return as the Utah Jazz coach, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and confirmed by Snyder and Jazz ownership.

“I am incredibly grateful to have spent the last eight years with such a respected and historic organization and in the beautiful, kind, supportive community of Salt Lake City. I could not have asked for better owners in the Miller family and with Ryan and Ashley,” Snyder said in a statement released by the team. “They represent the Utah Jazz in every good way and I know the team couldn’t be in better hands with Ryan’s ownership. He is fiercely proud of and committed to doing what is right for the Utah Jazz and bringing a championship to Utah. It has also been an honor working with the entire ownership group, Mike, Ryan, Dwyane and others. Danny and Justin are providing strong leadership and I greatly appreciate their efforts and working with them.

“At the core, and what drives me every day is our players and their passion for the game, their desire to constantly work to improve and their dedication to the team and the Jazz. I strongly feel they need a new voice to continue to evolve. That’s it. No philosophical differences, no other reason. After eight years, I just feel it is time to move onward. I needed to take time to detach after the season and make sure this was the right decision. I greatly respect and appreciate Ryan, Danny and Justin’s discussions regarding moving forward together, I just know it is time. I am forever appreciative of all the players, coaches, partners, and people I have worked with at the Jazz. Your sacrifice, your kinship have made this an incredible and special experience. Amy and I are so grateful for our time here as it has been just a tremendous place to raise our family. Thank you to our always supportive and passionate fans. We only want the best for you and to see you raise a championship banner.”

For any outgoing coach to say “they need a new voice to continue to evolve” is an honest and impressive statement. Snyder’s contract was guaranteed for this coming season and he had a coach’s option season after that.

Terry Stotts is the early frontrunner for the Jazz job, according to Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune. Bringing in a veteran head coach and one with a strong offensive acumen makes sense for a team that wants to keep winning and chase a title. However, the coaching search will be more broad than that one name.

Utah has gained new ownership in Ryan Smith and a new head of basketball operations in Danny Ainge in the past year. That combined with the Jazz not succeeding in the playoffs — falling last year to a Clippers team without Kawhi Leonard, then this year to the Mavericks in the first round — meant changes were coming to Utah. Rumors have the Jazz considering significant changes such as trading Rudy Gobert and retooling around Donovan Mitchell, or more minor moves and keeping Gobert and Donovan Mitchell as the core (keeping Mitchell is part of all of their plans).

While Snyder denied them, reports of “philosophical” differences between Snyder and the front office were about those changes and what a retooling would look like. Snyder did not think his voice was moving this team forward anymore. Both sides said their differences were not about money (although, more accurately, whatever extension Snyder was offered was not large enough to ignore those philosophical differences).

Snyder took over the Jazz in 2014 when they were a last-place team, helped develop players such as Gobert, Mitchell, Ingles and others, building them into a first-place team in 2021.

Snyder will be in high demand as a coach, and it wouldn’t be shocking if the Hornets gave him a quick call before finalizing Kenny Atkinson as their next coach. The Lakers were reportedly interested in Snyder, however, multiple sources told NBC Sports Snyder was not interested in the Lakers. The buzz around the league is he ultimately wants to replace Gregg Popovich as the Spurs coach, although it is likely Popovich will return for at least one more season in San Antonio (Popovich will decide when Popovich retires).