Quin Snyder has agreed to a five-year deal with the Atlanta Hawks to become their new head coach, the franchise announced on Sunday. That five-year period includes this season, and Snyder is expected to be on the sideline for Atlanta on Tuesday when they face the Washington Wizards. Atlanta fired Nate McMillan on Tuesday, and while reports initially suggested that they planned to conduct a thorough head-coaching search, they quickly zeroed in on Snyder as their candidate of choice.
Snyder spent eight seasons coaching the Jazz and was largely successful there. Utah reached the playoffs in six of his eight years at the helm and achieved the NBA's best regular-season record during the 2020-21 campaign. Snyder, known for his pick-and-roll-heavy offense and drop-coverage defense, was a finalist for the NBA's Coach of the Year award in 2018 and 2021.
But his Jazz teams came up short in the postseason year after year. The Jazz were knocked out by the Dallas Mavericks a season ago despite Luka Doncic beginning their first-round series with an injury. One year earlier, they were eliminated by the Clippers in the second round despite Kawhi Leonard missing the two final games of that series. In the 2020 Orlando bubble, they blew a 3-1 lead against the Denver Nuggets in the first round.
Those defeats eventually led to the breakup of the team. Snyder resigned after last season, and both Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert were traded. The Jazz, now led by Will Hardy, have become one of the feel-good stories of the 2022-23 season with a 30-31 record.
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The Hawks shared a nearly identical 29-30 record when McMillan was fired, but their season has not been regarded nearly as well. Unlike Utah, Atlanta reached the conference finals in the recent past thanks to a stellar 2021 run. They were knocked out in the first round last season, though, and after struggling to play .500 basketball thus far this season, the Hawks quickly moved on from McMillan. They have won their two games under interim coach Joe Prunty to move to 31-30 on the season.
In Atlanta, Snyder has taken on a job that comes with plenty of challenges in the immediate future. Key role players Clint Capela, Bogdan Bogdanovic and De'Andre Hunter have all dealt with injuries in recent seasons. Newcomer Dejounte Murray, whom the Hawks traded a haul to acquire, is essentially unextendable by current CBA rules, so the Hawks have less than two years to convince him to stay put as a 2024 free agent.
And then there's Trae Young, the All-NBA point guard that is as brilliant with the ball in his hands as any player in basketball. The problems for him arise when he doesn't have it. Young hasn't evolved as an off-ball scorer or defender since being drafted No. 5 overall in 2018. In December, a disagreement with McMillan led to Young not attending a game against the Nuggets. Young is emblematic of the challenges that will come with this job. The Hawks are a talented but flawed young team, and Snyder will have his work cut out for him as he attempts to turn them into winners.