New Head Coach Utah Jazz
Tuesday saw the announcement that Will Hardy had been selected as the Utah Jazz’s new head coach, owing to information that was revealed to both ESPN and The Athletic. But the team didn’t formally announce the news until Wednesday afternoon.
After spending the previous 11 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs organization, Hardy, 34, spent this past season serving as Ime Udoka’s primary assistant with the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics.
Hardy is now Quin Snyder’s replacement after Snyder quit earlier this month after eight years in charge. Hardy is the Jazz’s ninth head coach overall and the sixth since the team relocated from New Orleans to Salt Lake City.
“The Utah Jazz are one of the most respected and successful franchises in the NBA and the fan base here is legendary,” Hardy said in a statement released by the team. “This opportunity comes with tremendous responsibility. I’m grateful for the trust the Jazz have placed in me and I look forward to the work ahead.”
Although the team withheld the specifics of the contract, it is believed to be a five-year agreement. Hardy was a part of the coaching staff for the USA men’s basketball team that won the gold medal in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
He was the head coach of the Spurs teams in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas in 2017 and ’17 and the Salt Lake City Summer League from 2015 to 18 while he was in San Antonio. Gregg Popovich, head coach of the Spurs and the most successful coach in NBA history, sent a letter to the Jazz in support of his most recent protege’s pursuit of a head coaching position.
“I couldn’t be happier that Will has been given the opportunity to lead one of the finest programs in the league in the Utah Jazz,” Popovich said. “His intelligence, his ability to teach, and most importantly his manner brings immediate respect from players, management, and staff. He’s a competitive young man who understands the responsibilities of the position and no one will work harder to continue the success the Jazz have enjoyed for so long.”
"…no one will work harder to continue the success the Jazz have enjoyed for so long." -Coach Popovich#TakeNote pic.twitter.com/WVsyKlIOqc
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) June 29, 2022
Although the Jazz reportedly examined up to 15 candidates for the role, signs began to surface last weekend that Hardy had maybe cemented his status as the front-runner.
“As our search committee went through this process, Will really separated himself among a group of extremely talented candidates,” Jazz general manager Justin Zanik said in the team statement. “We’re eager to get to work with him as we continue our pursuit of bringing an NBA championship to Utah.”
CEO Danny Ainge.
Hardy’s expertise with Team USA and his role in putting the Celtics in position to contend for the NBA championship this season were considered, according to CEO Danny Ainge.
“Will Hardy is one of the brightest young leaders in the NBA,” Ainge said in the statement. “He understands the importance of setting a vision and creating a culture for players. He places great value on communication, player development and creating the most productive environment for players to succeed. His experience on coaching staffs that have made the NBA Finals and with USA Basketball are invaluable and have helped prepare him for this moment. We couldn’t be more excited for Will to lead the Jazz moving forward.”
Many of his former Celtics teammates expressed their disappointment at losing him as well as their enthusiasm for him to get the chance to lead his own team on social media.
“Couldn’t be happier for my guy! Extremely deserving,” wrote All-NBA First Team forward Jayson Tatum.
“Man Congratulations My Guy!! Hate to lose ya man and our daily wordles but no one more deserving and can’t wait to see you lead!!” added forward Grant Williams.
Udoka also gave his opinion to the Jazz in favor of Hardy.
“Will has a great basketball mind. I’ve watched his growth from our time together in San Antonio and throughout our season in Boston,” Udoka said. “He was an integral part of what we accomplished and will do great things in Utah.”
Owner Ryan Smith continued, saying that even though Hardy is now the NBA’s youngest head coach, his strong background stood out during the hiring process.
“We could not be more excited to welcome Will Hardy as the next head coach of the Utah Jazz. He has incredible experience and we believe in his continued trajectory,” Smith said in the team statement. “Danny and Justin ran a comprehensive process and we are confident Will is the right head coach to lead us into the next chapter of the Utah Jazz. Ashley and I and the entire ownership group are grateful to welcome Will, his wife Spencer, and their family to Utah.”
Hardy, a Richmond, Virginia native, received his undergraduate degree in English and played four seasons for the Ephs at Williams College. He has two daughters with his wife Spencer.