SALT LAKE CITY — While the Jazz had little turnover since last year among their players, with 12 of their top 13 scorers back, they did lose their top assistant coach, Igor Kosokov, who was hired to be the head coach for the Phoenix Suns.
Head coach Quin Snyder said he’s happy for Kosokov, who he had talked to as recently as Monday morning, saying, “we wish him well — he’s going to be terrific.” Snyder also talked at length during Monday’s media day news conference about his coaching staff, with two new additions, and what he expects from his assistants.
“More than anything else, the guys on our staff have to be unbelievably humble,” Snyder said. “One of the things that’s made our staff really good is guys being able to have humility and recognizing being on a team and not comparing yourself to other guys on the staff.”
The coach who has taken Kosokov’s place is another international coach, Fotis Katsikaris from Greece, who has been a head coach in Europe for several years and coached the Green National team from 2014-16.
“One of the biggest things that jumped out at me was his humility,” Snyder said. “He’s a guy who’s been a head coach for 15 or 20 years and coming to the NBA as an assistant, that’s a big transition. The reason I was so comfortable and excited about him was his desire to be here and his desire to contribute. It fits in with who we are, and we’re glad to have him.”
Another coach who has joined the Jazz staff this season is Vince Legarza, who was on the Minnesota Timberwolves' staff last year and formerly worked with Snyder at Atlanta. “He brings a unique skill set,” said Snyder.
As for who might be Snyder’s lead assistant, the answer is no one as Snyder explained in what he called a “long diatribe” at the press conference. Snyder explained that his experience being an assistant coach in a lot of different positions gave him a good perspective on how to structure his staff.
“We have guys that are coaches,” he said. “We don’t have offensive coordinators, we don’t have defensive coordinators, we don’t have video interns. The guys in the front of the bench are coaches and the guys behind the bench are player development coaches. To me that line is blurred.” Snyder gave the example of player development coach Lamar Skeeter being “every bit of a coach” as Johnnie Bryant, one of the three bench coaches who sit next to Snyder during games.1 comment on this story
“The way we’ve structured this, it’s more task-oriented than ‘you’re the No. 1, you’re the No. 2, you’re No. 6, you’re No. 7.’” he said. “Not only do we not have it, I don’t like it. It confuses other things in people’s roles. I think it’s been one of the things that’s made our staff really good.”
Snyder did mention that longtime assistant Antonio Lang has been promoted to the front of the bench now that Kosokov is gone. “That’s a real promotion and one that I’m real excited about,” Snyder said.
He also revealed that another longtime assistant, Alex Jensen, “will take over a game if I get kicked out,” but that doesn't necessarily make him the lead assistant.