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‘Sense of loss and sorrow and sadness’: Quin Snyder says goodbye to the Utah Jazz

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Former Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder talks about his decision to resign after eight seasons at a press conference at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, as Jazz owner Ryan Smith and Danny Ainge, Utah Jazz Basketball CEO, look on. Snyder does not know what is next for him, and the Utah Jazz do not know who will replace him yet. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY – Midway through Quin Snyder’s third season with the Utah Jazz, he and his wife Amy went to dinner to celebrate. At that time, coaches only lasted, on average, about 2.3 seasons with a team; the Snyders made sure to celebrate 2.5.

“I stopped counting,” Snyder said on the night of Utah’s season opener last October. “I’ve stopped counting my age and how long I’ve been here. I know I’ve been here longer than I’ve been anywhere else in my life.”

And now, that time has ended.

On Monday, Snyder – sitting alongside team owner Ryan Smith and CEO Danny Ainge – participated in his farewell press conference after electing to step down from his role as head coach.

Snyder began his remarks by looking over to former team owner Gail Miller and instantly grew emotional as he thanked her for “giving me a chance.”

He came to Utah as a somewhat risky choice. His tenure at Missouri ended in controversy and he spent years traveling the basketball world; he was far from a sure thing. In eight seasons in Utah, though, he turned a 25-win squad into a perennial playoff team.

“That first year is vivid. Those guys we all grew together, we all grew together,” Snyder said.

Snyder’s tenure had some disappointing – the early playoff exit in 2021 being the most stark – but, overall, it was a sure success.

The Jazz made the playoffs in Snyder’s last six seasons at the helm, he helped develop multiple All-Stars (Gordon Hayward, Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley), and Utah won more games than just about any team over the last five seasons . Snyder didn’t get the Jazz its first championship, but he made the team relevant.

“I think it’s pretty clear, like we desperately wanted him to stay,” Ainge said, though he understood more than most about Snyder’s choice.

“I’ve walked away from coaching and away from being a general manager in Boston, and so I trust that Quin knows more what’s best for him and his family than we do,” Ainge said.

But why leave now? That’s a question that Snyder, so known to have strong reasoning for every decision, didn’t have a complete answer to at the moment. He spent the weeks since the season ended laboring over and contemplating the choice, but on Saturday night he came to the conclusion that it was time. He didn’t know exactly why, but he trusted his gut.

“You try to be introspective and analyze all those things. I just got back to the same place – it was time,” he said. “It was time for the Jazz to move forward, time for me to move forward. It made the most sense to me.”

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He said it wasn’t any more complicated than that – and him agreeing to do a farewell press conference brings validity to that claim. He wanted a chance to say goodbye to all the people – players, fans, team employees, etc. – that had backed him over the last eight years.

“I couldn’t be more grateful for my time here. There are so many people that are responsible for that,” Snyder said.

Snyder often went down the rabbit hole of memories as he talked on Monday. He mentioned Game 7 win in Los Angeles against the Clippers in 2017, the loudness of the crowd when Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz to a Game 6 win against Oklahoma City in 2018, and the endless hours spent at the remodeled Zion’s Bank Basketball Campus.

“I didn’t lay the bricks – there’s so many other people that did that, both figuratively and literally – but it’s something that I feel a lot of pride of having to be a part of,” he said.

While confident in his choice, Snyder admitted it came with a “real sense of loss and sorrow and sadness.” Utah has become his family’s home. It’s the only place two of his children have ever lived, and two others were too young to remember the family’s stops in Moscow and Atlanta.

“This is a special place. That’s not going to change for us. It’s one of the things that makes it really difficult,” Snyder said.

So what’s next for Snyder? He said he hasn’t had time to think of that yet, but he hinted that he wouldn’t be on a staff when next season opens.

“As far as coaching next year, I know I’m gonna be at Halloween with my daughters. So that’s a silver lining of me stepping down,” he said.

Ainge, however, seemed confident that Snyder would soon be back in the coaching seat, calling him “probably the most wanted coach out there.”

Maybe that confidence comes from the fact it’s hard to imagine Snyder doing anything else than roaming the sidelines. This is a man who has gone all over the world to coach at just about every level. What does Snyder’s life look like without a team to coach?

“Those are questions that you give thought to and I’ll be able to get more thought to them as things move forward,” he said. “I’m fortunate to have a family that I look forward to spending a lot of time with. That’s a pretty good start.”

After eight seasons, the Snyders have another reason to celebrate.

Ryan Miller has covered the Utah Jazz for KSL.com since 2018.

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