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January 22, 2023

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Was Quin Snyder’s exit from the Utah Jazz a precursor to the exit of one of their star players?

The Jazz have been one of the most active teams in early offseason trade talks in recent weeks, including with All-Star center and three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. Utah hasn’t entertained offers from rival teams to steal All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell, sources said, but Jazz’s front office has engaged various teams in Gobert talks.

Bleacher Report previously illustrated the interest of the Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors in acquiring Gobert. As Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer first mentioned, Chicago has also become a potential business destination for Gobert, sources tell B/R.

Any deal that brings Gobert to the Bulls would almost certainly include Nikola Vucevic, the two-time All-Star Chicago center secured from the Orlando Magic before the 2021 trade deadline. Vucevic’s contract will expire at the end of the 2022-23 season. , and with Zach LaVine set for lucrative free agency, the Bulls brass have been considering their options at center since the February trade deadline, sources said.

Vucevic-for-Gobert seems to make more sense for Chicago, in the Bulls’ effort to fortify a defensive offense around LaVine. And while Vucevic is generally considered a net negative on the defensive end, the popular package mentioned by league executives of Vucevic and second-year forward Patrick Williams would feature the perimeter defender the Jazz have long coveted.

Chicago’s willingness to part ways with Williams remains to be seen. The Bulls strongly resisted including Williams in preliminary talks with the Detroit Pistons to acquire Jerami Grant before the trade deadline, sources told B/R. The addition of Coby White, whose value the Bulls have previously explored in the trade market, and Javonte Green would make the money work to match Gobert’s hefty contract.

For the Jazz to move Gobert, any comeback would have to be geared toward reshaping Utah to advance further in the playoffs. By the accounts, Jazz management has no plans to rebuild or pivot from a streak in which they’ve made the playoffs in each of the past six seasons.

What’s next for Jazz in the search for head coaches?

Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

After months of speculation over Snyder’s future, he resigned as head coach on Sunday.

Two sources with knowledge of Snyder’s thinking said his departure was nothing more than his desire to go in a different direction and get away from basketball for the foreseeable future. There were no ultimatums from either side, no demands on how to shape the list. The Jazz have made several offers from various structures to extend Snyder’s tenure, sources said, but have been consistently rebuffed.

There is an expectation in league circles that whenever San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich inevitably steps away from his own head coaching position, Snyder will be the leading candidate to replace the legendary leader. Snyder is said to be held in high regard by Spurs CEO RC Buford.

This summer has been marked by personnel changes for the Jazz. Snyder’s news came after Utah assistant coach Sergi Oliva left to become one of three new assistant general managers for the Portland Trail Blazers. Another Jazz assistant, former New Orleans Pelicans general manager Dell Demps, has been repeatedly mentioned by league staff as a likely addition to Tim Connelly’s Minnesota Timberwolves front office.

The initial list of targets to replace Snyder includes only one candidate with previous head coaching experience: Terry Stotts, the former Blazers caller. Stotts has a strong relationship with Snyder, and the same representation, and has spent several weeks around the Jazz this season. Utah officials are still compiling their list of interviewees, sources said, and will begin formally contacting applicants in the coming days.

Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

New York Knicks associate head coach Johnnie Bryant – who played collegiately at the University of Utah from 2005 to 2008 and developed a close relationship with Mitchell during the second half of Bryant’s stint as a jazz player development coach from 2012 to 2020 – is considered a prime candidate for the job. Utah hasn’t been shy about placating Mitchell’s interests, whether it’s trading for childhood friend Eric Paschall, changing the team’s medical staff or recruiting Mitchell’s mentor, Dwyane Wade, as minority owner.

Hiring Bryant would be consistent with the franchise’s recent behavior of building around its superstar guard, especially as talk has grown among NBA personnel about Mitchell’s potential to seek a trade before the end of his term. contract.

There are questions in the league about whether Jazz CEO of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge will be willing to accommodate Mitchell and his representation. But if Mitchell and Jazz president Ryan Smith are aligned with Bryant, or any other candidate, league sources with knowledge of the situation don’t expect Ainge to stand in the way. Ainge is not known to be someone who scours the market for up-and-coming NBA head coaches.

Jake Fischer covers the NBA for Bleacher Report and is the author of Built to Lose: How the NBA’s Tanking Era Changed the League Forever.

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