Quin Snyder’s coaching tree may grow yet another branch. The Cleveland Cavaliers—who are in the early stages of their head coaching search—have an early list of candidates they’d like to target for the position. Listed among them is one of Utah’s best assistant coaches, Alex Jensen.
Cleveland has not reached out directly to candidates or their agents and is in the early stages of its search, sources said. But there are no fewer than six candidates who fit the above criteria with ties to Altman and the Cavs’ organization.
They are: current Nuggets assistant Jordi Fernandez, 36, who was the head coach for the Cavs’ G League affiliate in Canton from 2014-16; Magic assistant Steve Hetzel, 38, who coached the Charge from 2013-14; Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, 44, who interviewed to be the Cavs’ head coach when they hired David Blatt in 2014; Hawks assistant Chris Jent, 49, a former player development coach in Cleveland; Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley, 40, who was a Cavs assistant from 2010-14; and Jazz assistant Alex Jensen, 42, who coached Canton from 2011-13.
Alex Jensen, who was Utah’s Mr. Basketball in 1994, played for Rick Majerus at the University of Utah. After graduation, he went on to play for numerous teams in Europe, even earning All-FIBA Eurocup Defender of the Year honors in 2004.
After hanging up from playing it went into coaching. He followed his college coach to Saint Louis and served on his staff for four seasons. He left Saint Louis after being offered the head coaching job for the Canton Charge of the then NBA D-League becoming their franchise first coach. He won D-League Coach of the Year in 2013. That same year he was added to the Utah Jazz’s coaching staff.
After Quin Snyder’s lead assistant coach, Igor Kokoskov, left for a head coaching position for the Phoenix Suns, Alex Jensen took over as lead assistant.
If Alex Jensen were to leave for Cleveland, he’d be inheriting quite the mess. The Cleveland Cavaliers fired Ty Lue at the beginning of the season after a disappointing start (only six games into the season). They—incredulously—believed that they were a potential playoff team. When things went off the rails quickly in Cleveland due to injuries, they unfairly brought down the hammer on Lue. Since his firing, Larry Drew has been filling in. Few believe Larry Drew wants to be their long-term nor does he want to be the coach.
Jensen would have to build the culture back up from the ground up with a bunch of young guys and spare parts left over from the LeBron era. He would also be working with a very young GM in Koby Altman who has been an NBA executive for about 7 years and an NBA GM for only one and a half years.
It does not appear that Alex Jensen has been contacted for the position nor do we know if Utah would even allow Cleveland to interview him at this juncture. It does appear that Quin Snyder is making a name for himself around the league and opposing GMs and Owners are envious of the culture Quin Snyder and Dennis Lindsey have built in Utah.