The Utah Jazz are making headlines across the NBA today but not on the trade market. Reports have surfaced that Will Hardy will be hired as the newest head coach for the franchise.
Why such news will naturally dominate the news cycle, another move was made on its heels in the hiring of David Fizdale to the front office to serve as an associate GM.
The Jazz are making a hire to the front office too: David Fizdale has agreed to become an associate GM, sources tell ESPN. After 18 seasons as an NBA head and assistant coach, Fizdale will move into management and work closely with GM Justin Zanik and CEO Danny Ainge with Jazz.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 28, 2022
Fizdale is a longtime staple in the league, as ESPN’s Wojnarowski notes. He began his career as an assistant for Golden State, Atlanta, and Miami. With the Heat he made a name for himself alongside Erik Spoelstra as a communicator and motivator, winning two championships during the “Big 3” era.
He became a head coach for the 2016-17 season, where he spent two campaigns coaching Mike Conley and Marc Gasol in Memphis before transitioning to New York for two seasons before his firing.
Most recently, he served as an assistant coach under Frank Vogel for the Los Angeles Lakers. David was born and raised in LA, attending the University of San Diego for four seasons where he acquired his BA in Communications.
A front office hire isn’t all that uncommon during the offseason, but to general manage the team alongside active GM Justin Zanik and below CEO Danny Ainge does invoke interesting questions.
Many speculate such a move is at the bequest of minority owner Dwyane Wade, who worked closely with him in Miami as an assistant coach.
What does this mean for Justin Zanik?
Justin has had a rocky road in his pursuit of managing a team. He left the Jazz organization for the Milwaukee Bucks at the promise to become their next GM. Ownership ruled him out of the role and he would eventually return to Utah under then-GM Dennis Lindsey.
Zanik moved into the GM role for Utah when Lindsey was promoted to Executive VP of Basketball Ops. The hiring of Danny Ainge as CEO of the franchise spelled doom for Lindsey, who stepped into an advisory role.
Does the hire Fizdale spell doom for Zanik, especially given Ainge’s “hands-on” approach?
Poor Justin Zanik https://t.co/J4Pudo3a2c pic.twitter.com/EtmNLfjd0i— Mychal (@My_Lo) June 28, 2022
In the short term, it’s unlikely Zanik transitions out of his current role. It’s become very popular to have multiple roles in managing the team.
The Toronto Raptors have a Vice-Chair, Team President, a GM, and an assistant GM.
The Washington Wizards have a President and GM, an Assistant GM, and a Senior Advisor to the GM.
The San Antonio Spurs have a CEO, GM, and VP of Basketball Ops.
In short, there seems to be plenty of precedent for teams with 3+ personnel members in this “team management” role. However, the long-term future doesn’t look great for Zanik.
As with most ownership transfers, the new regime is often intent on squaring away “their” staff who are bought into the long-term goals and are synchronized with expectations and operating procedure.
Zanik is of the former regime who has seen the likes of Snyder and Lindsey already exit the franchise. Fizdale is Wade’s guy and Ainge may hope to groom him into a GM role as an ex-coach and collegiate athlete similar to himself.
We’ll see what the future holds but for now, let’s welcome David Fizdale and Will Hardy as the newest members to the Jazz organization.