JUNE 29: The Jazz have made it official, announcing in a press release that they’ve hired Hardy as their new head coach.
“Will Hardy is one of the brightest young leaders in the NBA,” Ainge said in a 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.”
JUNE 28: Celtics assistant Will Hardy is closing in on a deal with the Jazz to become the team’s new head coach, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirms (via Twitter) that Hardy has been offered the job and is finalizing a deal with Utah.
Hardy, 34, will receive a five-year contract, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), who notes that Hardy will become the youngest active head coach in the league.
Hardy joined the Spurs’ video room as an intern in 2010 and remained with the organization for more than a decade, earning a promotion to Gregg Popovich‘s coaching staff in 2015. He made the move to Boston to become an assistant under Ime Udoka a year ago and spent the 2021/22 season as a Celtics assistant before receiving head coaching consideration from the Kings in the spring.
Hardy, who played college ball at Williams College in Massachusetts, also earned some consideration as a head coaching candidate in 2020, having been linked to the Pacers, Knicks, and Thunder when they were conducting coaching searches.
Marc Stein reported last week that Jazz CEO Danny Ainge wanted to hire an up-and-coming first-time head coach to replace Quin Snyder, who stepped down earlier this month after eight seasons with Utah. Stein added that Utah’s front office was impressed by Hardy and Suns assistant Kevin Young.
A couple days after Stein’s report, Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune wrote that Hardy was a leading candidate for the position, with the Jazz also strongly considering Young. Other finalists included Joe Mazzulla, Adrian Griffin, and Alex Jensen, all of whom met with Jazz ownership this week, sources tell Wojnarowski (via Twitter).
The Jazz have made the postseason six seasons in a row, with a regular season winning percentage no worse than .585 over that span, but have failed to advance past the second round in the West. Utah lost in the first round to Dallas this past season, even though Mavericks star Luka Doncic was injured and missed the first three games of the series.
Hiring a young coach makes sense for Utah, as the team is in somewhat of a transitional phase. The Jazz obviously want to take the next step and become a legitimate title contender, but if they decide to pivot into a rebuild at some point, they’ll already have a coach who has experience working with young players, as Hardy led the Spurs’ Summer League squad from 2015-18.
Rory Maher contributed to this story.