Utah Jazz dodged giant bullet with huge Duke basketball announcement

Utah Jazz (Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz (Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports) /

Some Duke basketball news must help the Utah Jazz breathe a sigh of relief.

The Duke basketball coaching tree is immense. That said, of all the guys who have learned under five-time national champion Mike Krzyzewski in the past 41 years and then gone on to run a show of their own elsewhere, one man has recently stood out as easily the most accomplished of the bunch: Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder.

So on Wednesday afternoon, when the 74-year-old Krzyzewski announced his upcoming 2021-22 farewell tour in what will be his 42nd season leading the Blue Devils, some Jazz fans might have been growing worried that Duke would try to swipe its former gem from Utah.

Considering the fact Coach K earns almost $10 million a year in his position and that the university currently sits on an endowment in the billions, the money alone might’ve been enticing.

Instead, along with the news of retirement plans, the renowned college program in Durham, N.C., revealed the legend’s successor-in-waiting: 33-year-old Jon Scheyer, who is the active Duke basketball associate head coach and also a former Blue Devil.

Would Quin Snyder have left the Utah Jazz for Duke?

Sure, Quin Snyder probably wouldn’t have seriously pursued the opening anyway if Duke hadn’t immediately decided on Mike Krzyzewski’s replacement. On the other hand, of all the gigs that the 54-year-old might even begin to consider, it’s safe to say that his alma mater (1985-89) would be at or near the top of that list.

After all, not only did Snyder reach the Final Four three times as a point guard for Coach K, but he was also a brilliant recruiter and assistant coach under the Hall of Famer from 1993 to 1999. He saw a pair of Final Four appearances in that role before becoming the head man at Missouri.

Now, note that Snyder’s 2020-21 Utah Jazz team compiled the NBA’s best regular-season record this go-round. Plus, the group has already advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals — the third time since Snyder’s arrival — after finalizing a 3-1 series win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.

Yes, with that in mind, the current assumption in Salt Lake City has to be that the Jazz will hope to keep Snyder — now in his seventh year at the helm and boasting a 323-231 record — for many years to come.

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However, should Jon Scheyer fall flat after a few years in his pressure-packed role, don’t be surprised if this Snyder-to-Duke talk starts to pop up once again.