Whenever the Lakers season comes to an end, whether it includes a brief cameo in the play-in game or not, it feels like a foregone conclusion that the team will part ways with Frank Vogel. It’s no secret at this point that Vogel’s days are numbered with the franchise, and it’s a near miracle he will (likely) survive the entire season in charge.
But while Vogel being fired feels a matter of when, not if, his long-term replacement has not been discussed much at all. On Monday, though, we got our first rumored candidate, and it’s a familiar name.
In his latest Substack newsletter, longtime NBA reporter Marc Stein mentioned current Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder as a potential replacement for a pair of potential head coach openings, one in Los Angeles, and another in San Antonio (emphasis mine):
As covered in my previous This Week In Basketball column, Snyder has been increasingly mentioned as a potential target for San Antonio to succeed Gregg Popovich. I’ve likewise heard Snyder’s name posed as a probable Los Angeles Lakers candidate should the Lakers and Frank Vogel part ways after what has been a nightmare season in Hollywood.
Snyder has ties to both teams after a three-season stint as San Antonio’s G League coach in Austin and one season as a Lakers assistant under Mike Brown.
As Stein notes, Snyder was hired by Mike Brown way, way back when in 2011 as an assistant coach. Kobe Bryant was a big fan of Snyder — and the feeling was mutual — but after the one season in Los Angeles, Snyder followed fellow Lakers assistant Ettore Messina to Russia to serve as an assistant for CSKA Moscow before returning back to the NBA and eventually being hired by the Jazz in 2014 as the head coach.
Under him, the Jazz have become perennial contenders in the Western Conference, routinely finishing with one of the top records in the conference and the league. Their repeated implosions in the playoffs do mean that they are routinely one of the top seeds, even if it does come with constant underperforming.
But when it comes to systems, Snyder has built a reliable one in Utah. Based around Rudy Gobert, the Jazz routinely have a top defense, ranking in the top 10 five of the last six years, and have developed an equally potent offense built around shooting and spacing, both of which would complement LeBron James, in theory.
Snyder’s availability this summer is up in the air. For one, he isn’t expected to be a free agent this summer, though his exact contract status is unknown as Stein dives into:
It’s crucial to note, of course, that Snyder is not currently projected to be a coaching free agent at season’s end. The 55-year-old’s precise contract situation is not publicly known, but he signed an extension with the Jazz before the 2019-20 season that, according to an ESPN report at the time, added “multiple years” to a deal that had two seasons remaining.
NBA coaching sources nonetheless insist that Utah has been unsuccessful in its attempts to extend Snyder’s contract further, leading to the belief that the coach tied for the league’s third-longest active coaching tenure alongside Golden State’s Steve Kerr might be more gettable than advertised
If he isn’t a free agent, the Jazz could still allow him to talk to teams, but compensation would have to be worked out if the Lakers hire him, compensation the Lakers don’t have much of.
The other path to hiring him would involve the Jazz underperforming once again and the franchise opting to scapegoat someone(s) as a result. There are many names that could be considered, but if Snyder only has a small handful of years later on his deal, he seems like one of the cheaper choices if the organization simply wants to shake things up.
As if Lakers fans needed another reason to root against the Jazz, landing Snyder would be a lot easier if he were fired and freely available this offseason. And in the defense of the Lakers in their last coaching search, each of the three candidates they seriously considered all proved to be great coaches. Prior to landing Vogel, the team targeted Monty Williams and Ty Lue, losing out on both of them before settling on a coach that would still lead them to a championship.
But Vogel’s days have long felt numbered, and the team will have to move in a different direction this offseason. If that direction includes Snyder this summer, it feels like it would be a net win for the Lakers.