We have some veterans. We still have a lot of youth. Hopefully the interplay is something that will benefit some of the veteran guys and some of the younger guys, the youthful enthusiasm and the veteran savvy. It’s a good thing I think for our whole group. —Quin Snyder
LAS VEGAS — Other than missing out on the playoffs this past spring, things are trending in a very positive direction for Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder.
The 49-year-old recently received a contract extension through the 2020-21 season.
His youthful roster, which made a playoff push despite a rash of injuries in 2015-16, was just bolstered by the addition of well-established veterans Joe Johnson, Boris Diaw and George Hill.
And, best of all, his wife Amy is pregnant with their third child.
Though Snyder wasn’t on the sideline during his team’s summer league games in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, the third-year Utah coach took some time at UNLV to chat about the state of his team.
Q: What will it be like to go from having the youngest roster in the NBA to one that now has three guys 30 or older?
Snyder: (Regarding) the younger versus older, I think I would just say we’re more a typical roster. We have some veterans. We still have a lot of youth. Hopefully the interplay is something that will benefit some of the veteran guys and some of the younger guys, the youthful enthusiasm and the veteran savvy. It’s a good thing I think for our whole group.
Q: Your team added experience at each player group (Hill: point guards; Johnson: wings; Diaw: bigs). Thoughts on those additions?
Snyder: I think as much as anything we obviously had injuries last year. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about those things. I think this year we added some depth and I think we’re more balanced. We’ve got guys that haven’t played that are coming back (Dante Exum and Alec Burks). We’re still going to be in fact-finding mode about how everybody fits together and how they all interact. I think we do have kind of a foundation as a group. We know we want to guard. We know we want to share the ball. Within those big-picture things, I think things will sort themselves out.
Q: Have your expectations increased with these offseason moves?
Snyder: I think it’s just the natural process. I would say my expectations have probably always — I’ve not tried to put a ceiling on them. At the same time, there’s been some realism involved with the group. I think we surprised even ourselves last year when we had a lot of injuries and we were able to hang in there. It would’ve been nice to make the playoffs at the end of the year, but I don’t know that our expectations would be that much different either way. It’s hard to predict where the rest of the league is, but I do think with a little more continuity, with a little more balance, with a little more experience that our team will evolve and hopefully evolve in a really, really positive way.
Q: What kind of adjustments do you anticipate going from a team that struggled with depth to being a deeper team?
Snyder: We have depth. I think the challenge is for myself and the players and everybody is just to compete and stay true to the game and stay true to each other. It’s hard to predict all of those things. Knock on wood, hopefully we stay away from injury, but we saw what happened there last year. I think guys have to understand that the team’s most important and winning is the most important thing. Fortunately, we’ve got a group that does understand that and I think believes that. Do players always want to play more? Of course. I think our group is committed to winning. Whatever, whoever that means is on the floor to start the game, finish the game, those things could change depending upon the game and a lot of factors. I don’t want to get to this is where we are today, this is where we are (and will remain). I think it’s a question of feel and (we’ll) see how the team evolves and see how guys integrate and where we are with that.
Q: What do you expect from Dante Exum as he returns from his knee injury?
Snyder: As much as we can get. I think that’s an injury that he’ll be back from, but it’s not a simple thing. There’s a process that you go through — any player with any injury. I think that going from becoming healthy physically to getting to compete again to kind of finding your game and continuing to improve. We don’t really have a specific timetable on that as far as where he is, but I know he’s missed playing. He loves to play and I think this will be an opportunity for him to start doing that again and I know he’s excited and we’re excited for him.
Q: What is your assessment of the Jazz’s summer league?
Snyder: I think the biggest thing that we wanted (with) a known quantity is let’s challenge Trey Lyles. I think we’ve had an opportunity to do that and see him in some situations offensively that he’s not been in all the time. And he may not be in them a lot this year, but we get an idea of some of the things that he’s capable of and some of the things we can push him towards and he can work on. I think it was great to get a chance to see our three second-round picks in Joel (Bolomboy), Marcus (Paige) and Ty (Wallace). That’s a big bonus as we head in (to training camp) is to give those guys a chance to compete. Obviously (it was) a chance to see Tibor (Pleiss) as well, to see him knock down a few threes. In all, (it was) a chance to evaluate a little bit and also a chance to gain some experience and some situations that are probably unique to summer league.
Q: What will the regular starting lineup be? (While an important topic, this question is also a running joke between Snyder and beat writers.)
EMAIL: [email protected]