The initial shock of Gail Miller announcing in October 2020 that she was selling the Utah Jazz to tech entrepreneur Ryan Smith has long since dissipated. And yet, it remains a bit jarring to consider that — aside from the minority stake they retained in the team upon its $1.6 billion sale — the Miller family now has zero involvement in running the team it owned for 35 years. Greg Miller, who previously served as CEO of both the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies and the Jazz until his 2015 resignation, acknowledged this week that the team no longer being under the family’s control took some getting used to. “Well, it’s been a huge change. It’s been a seismic change for us,” Miller told The Salt Lake Tribune.
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The Miller family was able to take the resources formerly allocated for the Jazz and Vivint Arena and redirect them to other ventures (both business and philanthropic), while the organization has, he believes, benefitted from an influx of new blood and new perspectives. “Ryan brings a level of energy and creativity to the team that I’m sure our family never had,” Miller said. “… I hope that it’s everything that he wanted it to be. I hope that all of his goals and aspirations that he had in pursuit of owning an NBA franchise materialize, and that he’s able to have just great success.”
Miller is urging people not to jump to premature conclusions about the re-brand. “I don’t know that it’s going to be that earth-shattering. I’ve seen the new look, and I think it’s a very impressive look,” he said. “But if you look back over the 43 years or so that the Jazz have been in this market, there have been several re-branding efforts, and to me, it’s just cool to look back on those as a collective and just sort of see the evolution of those. And they all fit. They all have their place in their era. And you think of the players that wore a certain style of jersey. And so I think this is the next installment. And I applaud Ryan for taking the steps to be new and innovative.”
Greg Miller wants to see the franchise succeed whether his family has a hand in it or not. “As someone who was invested — emotionally and financially invested — in the Jazz for decades, I would love nothing more than to see Ryan and the Jazz, Quin [Snyder], and everyone in the organization, just continue to grow and progress and ultimately win an NBA championship,” Miller said.
While it’s unclear what exactly motivated that holding pattern from Snyder, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told B/R there was some form of a disagreement between Snyder and Utah’s front office during the 2021 offseason, prior to Ainge’s arrival. Snyder still has one year remaining on his contract, along with a 2023-24 option that he could choose to pick up or decline prior to that season. There’s plenty of time to evaluate his own Jazz footing, especially as speculation continues to mount about the longevity of the Mitchell-Gobert pairing.
With that, there’s little expectation among figures close to the situation that Snyder will be departing Utah before his own contract expires. And for all of the speculation about potential front-office changes under Ainge, several league sources indicated the Jazz CEO has no imminent plans to shake up Utah’s basketball operations.
Ainge did work alongside a small cohort during his time shepherding the Boston Celtics, but he has expressed little desire to run day-to-day activities in Utah, sources said. Prior to the 2021-22 campaign, the Jazz hired several new front-office figures to three-year deals with team options in 2023-24.
Ethan J. Skolnick: Erik Spoelstra said he didn’t know @Dwyane Wade was coming. “He’s living a life. Front row Utah games. And front row here. It’s an incredible thing. It just looks weird when he’s sitting there (in Utah)…. and next to Danny Ainge?” @5ReasonsSports
Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck still exchanges text messages with Ainge about once a week. President of basketball operations Brad Stevens, who was hired by Ainge as the Celtics’ coach in 2013 before replacing him as lead executive last spring, said he and Ainge remain in frequent contact. Assistant general manager Austin Ainge speaks to his father every day. “I was telling him what I think they should be doing against the Mavericks, and he was telling me what he saw against the Nets,” Austin Ainge said. “We even talk about playoff series neither of our teams are involved in. But he’s been rooting very hard for us and is very invested. He obviously cares for us in the front office. He worked with us for so many years. He’s super-invested in the players. He spent hours and hours with these guys, and of course he’s pulling for them.”
It has been less than five months since Smith hired Ainge to work with general manager Justin Zanik and 10 months since longtime Jazz executive Dennis Lindsey resigned. Sources say Ainge and Snyder have worked together well so far, but it’s clear there’s still a getting-to-know-you component here that continues to evolve.
The Jazz were always going to replace Lindsey, and, according to sources, Zanik hoped he could be that guy. So it’s somewhat of a surprise this sort of move comes in the middle of December. But with the Jazz all-in on winning a championship this season and planning to be active on the trade market, the move sets the hierarchy and provides clarification on who is running what in the front office.
Sources close to Ainge had suggested he always wanted a Jerry West-esque role so he would have time for golf and his grandkids. Ainge’s son Tanner, a former congressional candidate in Utah who serves on the governor’s economic development board, has five children with his wife, Heidi. He is still tightly connected to his alma mater, BYU, so being close to both Salt Lake City and Provo gave him the best of both worlds. The Jazz noted in their press release that Ainge and his wife, Michelle, recently relocated to Utah.
According to sources, Smith pushed Ainge significantly to take the job. It was Ainge’s initial intent to sit out the season, but after seven months, he felt energized enough to make the leap. Ainge has always been insanely competitive, so when he retired, not many thought he would be done for good, and Smith wanted to hire him back in August.
Ben Anderson: Quin Snyder on the @Utah Jazz addition of Danny Ainge: “Adding Danny and his breadth of experience both in management and playing, coaching — I think it just adds to a group that’s already very strong. and I look forward to it.” #TakeNote | @KSLSports
Ben Anderson: Danny Ainge said he started to feel the itch to return to the league in the last few weeks. He’s been watching games and knew he wanted to come back. #TakeNote | @kslsports
Eric Walden: Danny Ainge: “I’m not gonna be the guy that’s running the day to day. That’s gonna be Justin. I’m happy to communicate with him. I can be a sounding board for him. … This is going to take some time to develop.”
Eric Walden: Ryan Smith on Danny Ainge: “This is a real unique role. This is an unprecedented role that hasn’t existed. Danny brings what he’s good at.”
Chris Grenham: Danny Ainge, per Utah’s press release: “Joining the Jazz was a natural and perfect fit for me, as my roots in Utah are deep and strong. This is a team that has a tremendous foundation of players and people, and Justin and Quin are doing an amazing job.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: Danny Ainge’s title is Alternate Governor and CEO of Jazz Basketball.
Tony Jones: The Utah Jazz announce Assistant GM David Morway has adjusted his role to Senior Basketball Advisor, among a slew of other moves within the organization.
Tony Jones: League Sources tell The Athletic that Morway chose to adjust his role in order to spend time with more family for this year. Sources say Morway will continue to have a very active role within the organization. He was a significant factor in the Jazz getting Rudy Gay in FA
Ben Anderson: The @Utah Jazz have promoted Marquis Newman to Director of Pro Personnel, filling the position left empty by Dave Fredman last month. #takenote kslsports.com/463768/jazz-pr…
“Shane Battier has already been mentioned as a candidate to join the [Jazz] front office,” Brian Windhorst said on a recent episode of his podcast. “Shane was obviously a teammate of Dwyane Wade’s in Miami for several years. He resigned from the [Miami] Heat’s front office two weeks ago in kind of a surprising move because he was regarded as a guy who might be with the Heat for a long time. There has been some speculation throughout the league that maybe this was in the works since then, and Battier would be a candidate.”
Brian Windhorst: Dennis Lindsey has done as good of a job as any executive for the last decades in the NBA. He built that team in Utah from scratch in a small market. And the reason he is no longer the president… Some of the stuff that he’s saying about why is leaving, I’m sure it’s true… is because he got on the opposite side of Donovan Mitchell. If you are on the opposite side of your franchise star, you’re just not going to survive. That’s just the way it is.
Brian Windhorst: It was an open secret in the NBA that Quin Snyder and Dennis Lindsey had a very poor relationship. Some of this stuff is somewhat known. Some of the stuff is private, but was some classic stuff, you know, coaches not not valuing developing players. You know, snide, you know, backstabbing stuff or whatever. It’s endemic in the NBA, it happens.
Howard Beck: This whole new ownership group might want to put its own stamp on things. I’ve heard Shane Battier’s name floated as a possibility.
Dennis Lindsey’s exit from the Utah Jazz’s president of basketball operations chair was more of an ownership decision than Lindsey’s personal one, sources tell The Salt Lake Tribune, as new owner Ryan Smith chose to move on without Lindsey at the helm and selected general manager Justin Zanik as the team’s primary decision-maker.
Lindsey, hired by the Jazz in 2012, selected Snyder to be his team’s head coach in the summer of 2014 after a disappointing season from predecessor Ty Corbin. But in the years that ensued, Snyder and Lindsey’s relationship deteriorated, creating distrust between the pair that impacted day-to-day Jazz operations. The disagreements were numerous, both on and off the court, sources said.
While the relationship between the two men wasn’t as combative this year as it had been at various times in the two’s tenure, thanks at least in part to the success of the team in the regular season, there was a view from some within the organization that a longstanding feud had been settled. “Quin won,” one source simply said.
In Derrick Favors’ first stint with the Jazz, Lindsey was a proponent of starting Favors at the power forward position next to All-NBA center Rudy Gobert, touting that pairing’s defensive acumen. Snyder, meanwhile, struggled with spacing the floor under those lineups.
Snyder joined most of the Jazz’s front office in being frustrated by the selection of Udoka Azubuike with the team’s first-round pick in 2020. The selection, sources said, was made over strenuous disagreement from the team’s scouting department, but Lindsey saw a future in Azubuike’s size and ability to finish around the basket.
Ben Anderson: Quin Snyder on @Utah Jazz VP of Basketball Ops Dennis Lindsey moving into an advisory role. #TakeNote pic.twitter.com/VLCoipHIms
Tony Jones: Statement from Dennis Lindsey to The Athletic: I love Utah, Salt Lake City and the Utah Jazz. My personal and financial interest are all in line with the Jazz being great. I am moving from a leadership role to an advisory role. That’s the only difference
Taking on more of an advisory role is something that Lindsey has thought about for a while, discussing it with the Miller family and then Ryan Smith, after Smith took over ownership of the team last year.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Dennis Lindsey, who will become an advisor to the Jazz, has confirmed and shared a statement: pic.twitter.com/wU3weLiu5j
Eric Walden: Dennis, on next steps: “Good, honest, sober evaluations — which we’ll keep internal. … We’ll try to be brutally honest where we fell short. Where we had opportunities, where we didn’t, and if we didn’t, why we didn’t. One of our strengths is we’re honest with ourselves.”
Chris Mannix: As Danny Ainge moves on from Boston, a possible landing spot, in some capacity: The Utah Jazz. As rumors of Ainge’s exit rippled through the NBA in recent months, a role with the Jazz has been seen as a potential next step.
Mike Conley: My guy! Welcome to Utah! @Dwyane Wade pic.twitter.com/gfBnpSAkMb
Clutch Points: Dwyane Wade in attendance to watch his Utah Jazz take on the Indiana Pacers. Wade purchased an ownership stake in the franchise, it was announced this morning. pic.twitter.com/uCVrNlPp2L
Ben Anderson: Quin Snyder on new @Utah Jazz owner Dwyane Wade. “It’s tremendous today that we have someone like Dwyane Wade who has chosen to be a part of the Jazz organization.”
Ben Anderson: Quin Snyder on Dwyane Wade’s presence as a human: “I’m not one to judge that but there’s just people that you come across in life that have the ability to touch you, and to impact you and those interactions take place in in many different ways in many different forms.”
NBA legend Dwyane Wade has joined the Utah Jazz ownership group, merging his basketball experience and business acumen into the realization of a dream he has had since his playing days. “As a businessman, entrepreneur, and investor, I bring a lot to this partnership outside of my basketball experience,” Wade said. “I’m excited to help take the Utah Jazz to the next level.”
Wade already has a number of business partnerships, including Li-Ning, Hisense, MISSION, Budweiser, BallerTV, Wade Cellars and 800° Woodfired Kitchen. Smith and Wade met several years ago and had engaged in numerous conversations about working together. Shortly after the Smiths acquired the Jazz in 2020, those conversations shifted to focus on the Utah Jazz and Smith Entertainment Group. “Partnering with Ryan and the Utah Jazz is the perfect fit as we share the same vision and values,” Wade said. “Not only is this group focused on building a championship franchise, they are also committed to using their platform to do good and actively create a more inclusive, equitable world. We share a lot of the same goals and are trying to go the same places in life.”
Wade retired as a player in 2019, having built a résumé that is sure to make him a first-ballot Hall of Famer when he is eligible. Now the 13-time All-Star and three-time champion, joins the shortlist of former players with ownership stakes in an NBA franchise, alongside Michael Jordan (Charlotte), Shaquille O’Neale (Sacramento) and Grant Hill (Atlanta). “I am always looking for new opportunities to grow and challenge myself,” Wade said. “I’ve always done things my own way and this is the next step in my journey. As a kid from the south side of Chicago, this partnership goes beyond my wildest dreams of playing basketball, and I hope to inspire the next generation of dreamers.”
Dwyane Wade: It’s Bigger Than Basketball!
Utah Jazz: on site.
Three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade has purchased an ownership stake in the Utah Jazz, joining majority owner and governor Ryan Smith with plans to take an active role in the franchise and region.
Wade, an eight-time All-NBA player with the Miami Heat, is the latest of several Hall of Fame-level players with NBA ownership stakes, including Grant Hill (Atlanta Hawks), Shaquille O’Neal (Sacramento Kings) and Charlotte Hornets majority owner Michael Jordan. Magic Johnson previously had a 4% stake in the Los Angeles Lakers.
“This goes way beyond the dream I had to just play basketball in the NBA,” Wade told ESPN. “I’ve seen Shaq do it in Sacramento. I’ve seen Grant Hill do it in Atlanta. I’ve seen Jordan do it in Charlotte. If this partnership is going to be anything like my relationship is with Ryan, there are going to be a lot of things that I’ll want to be involved in.”
“… Unfortunately, people in my community don’t get this opportunity, and I do not take it lightly to have this opportunity. To make real change, this is where you have to be — at the top — and Ryan knows that. I’m thankful for him, and I know too that I bring a lot to this partnership outside of just my basketball knowledge and skills.”
Wade, 39, met Smith on a San Clemente, California, golf course shortly after his playing retirement in 2019, and they became fast friends. Wade wanted to understand about Smith’s tech empire, including his company Qualtrics, and called him a “mentor.” Smith, 42, raised the idea of Wade joining the ownership group upon completing a $1.66 billion purchase of the Jazz in October. The NBA has a bylaw that ownership stakes can be no less than 1% of the team, but Wade’s financial investment in the franchise is not immediately clear.
“Dwyane has had a chance to be part of so many different [ownership] groups if he wanted that,” Smith told ESPN. “We’ve basically been in discussion from the time we closed on the team on how we can get this done. Like I run my tech business, you want the brightest people around. “There is a broad picture here. It’s much more than just basketball. This league is the biggest platform that there is, and we ran toward that. This isn’t a league where we came in saying, ‘Hey, this has gone somewhere we’re not comfortable with.’ This is actually what we signed up for. We’re the newest ownership group. We’re the youngest. Dwyane’s a perfect fit. “It wasn’t like we wanted more partners; that wasn’t what we were trying to do. I want to work with Dwyane on and off the court, on the business side, and so do our partners — because of who he is as a human being and what he’s accomplished. Those are the kinds of people you want around.”
“The respect I that I have for that [Heat] organization will not go anywhere, the love that I have for the [Heat] fans — that goes nowhere,” Wade told ESPN. “But this is about the next phase of my life as an investor, a businessman, an entrepreneur. For me, this is an opportunity to grow.”
“We’re not running away from the racial and social and LGBTQ conversations,” Wade told ESPN. “I’m committed to doing the work. I talk about the LGBTQ community, which everyone knows is important to me. My daughter is part of that community. “I don’t look at this as only a Utah Jazz relationship. I look at this as a relationship that’s multifaceted — business, basketball, me being able to bring Ryan into my world just as he’s bringing me into his world.”
Wade has had a strong relationship to Jazz All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell, who has regularly been compared to Wade since his arrival in the NBA. “I call him 2.0,” Wade told ESPN. “If there’s a player similar to me, it’s Donovan Mitchell.” Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Mitchell had spent time shadowing Wade in South Florida. “He wanted to ride in the car with me, go to the gym and shoot and really wanted to pick my brain,” Wade said. “He’s on that short list of people who call me and talk for hours. We’ve got a big brother-little brother relationship.”
Said Smith: “Every city in every state is looking at leaders in their community to help. Whether it’s Minnesota, New York or L.A., what we do is something that can be leveraged to drive the culture of an entire [region]. That’s the work Dwyane and our group are talking about. We’re in a world where basketball is uniting this state when everything else in the world is trying to divide us. If we can take that platform and do good and lead and right change for the future, we can look back and say, ‘Wow, that’s what legacy is about.'”
Adrian Wojnarowski: The NBA’s joint probe with the Utah Jazz’s independent, outside counsel could not corroborate allegations made by former player Elijah Millsap that Jazz executive Dennis Lindsey made an inflammatory comment in an April 2015 exit meeting, sources tell ESPN.
Tim Reynolds: The NBA announces that an investigation into Elijah Millsap’s claims regarding his Utah Jazz exit interview did not establish that the alleged comment was made. pic.twitter.com/YiM6d7OwL7
Andy Larsen: Ryan Smith, on if he’ll meddle with bball ops: “I’m not going to go in and chime in to what the basketball side of the house is really doing. I’m just here to help. I truly believe that we hire the best and we let them roll, then augment them with anything they need help with.”
Tony Jones: The Jazz won’t immediate search for a replacement for Walt Perrin, League Sources tell The Athletic. They will divide his responsibility up in house
The Bulls hope to have the first part of the hiring process finalized sooner than later, sources said, particularly since the new hire will be granted authority to build out the front office’s infrastructure. Utah Jazz general manager Justin Zanik interviewed for the position on Monday.
Steve Starks, chief executive officer of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, announced today the appointment of Jim Olson, a 25-year veteran of the organization, as president of the Utah Jazz and Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment (LHMSE), effective October 7. Olson, who has been the executive vice president for LHMSE and president of Vivint Smart Home Arena, will oversee the day-to-day business operations of the Utah Jazz. As president of LHMSE, Olson will also provide strategic leadership for properties such as Megaplex Theatres, Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake Bees baseball team, Salt Lake City Stars NBA G League team, Jazz Gaming NBA 2K team, The Zone Sports Network and the Tour of Utah professional cycling race.
Eric Woodyard: Justin Zanik on pressure of filling role as Jazz GM: “It’s not about me. This is about the organization and the group and we have a very collaborative process here that involves all aspects of the organization when we have decisions that come up.”
Andy Larsen: Quin Snyder comment on new roles for Dennis Lindsey and Justin Zanik: “I greatly appreciate working with Dennis and Justin and our entire basketball operations department. Having continuity with good people is certainly a positive and look forward to our continued work together.”
“We are excited for these promotions as they further enable Dennis to provide executive leadership and overall strategic vision for Jazz basketball operations and give Justin the opportunity for greater impact on our organization. As one of the brightest young executives in the league, Justin will be responsible for the day-to-day operations. Their leadership allows us to work collectively toward our championship goals,” said Steve Starks, president of the Utah Jazz.
In moves that will reshape the front office of one of the Western Conference’s perennial playoff franchises, the Utah Jazz are promoting general manager Dennis Lindsey to executive vice president of basketball operations and assistant GM Justin Zanik to GM, league sources told ESPN.
Lindsey, the Jazz’s general manager since 2012, will take on a broader, strategic and leadership role and Zanik will become responsible for the day-to-day duties of running basketball operations, league sources said. A formal announcement is expected as soon as Friday, league sources said.
Eric Walden: Ricky Rubio, on the drama of the trade deadline: “Do I like it? No. I hate it. … The team, sometimes, upstairs, they don’t feel like the chemistry matters, and sometimes it matters more than anything.”
He was also suspended for the first five games after testing positive for marijuana. Sefolosha said he used it for pain management, but also doesn’t run from the fact that he was wrong. When news of the suspension surfaced last spring, Sefolosha had a conversation with Lindsey. The contents of that talk have been kept private, but sources say the Jazz showed a level of understanding to what Sefolosha was enduring at the time. “It’s definitely not something I want to endorse in any kind of way,” Sefolosha said. “I know that I had to own up to it. There were no excuses. I know I have young fans and I know that it’s a terrible thing for young people to do. I did what I did, and I have to deal with the consequences.”
Kyle Goon: Dennis Lindsey on the Jazz bringing everybody back: “The team really grabbed the heart of the city. We wanted to honor that as much as anything.”
In 10 months, Mitchell’s life has taken a 180-degree turn. For those following, his rise has become legendary as the subject of many profiles starting with a pre-draft workout at the Jazz practice facility last summer. “As you look back at it and say, ‘OK, you had an inkling of what he could do but we’re all surprised what he did,’” said Walt Perrin, Utah’s vice president of player personnel.
Tony Jones: Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey to the Salt Lake Tribune on Kokoskov: We are so happy for Igor and his family. Igor is a man of integrity who has worked very hard at his craft. A good coach is immensely valuable in this business
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May 20, 2022 | 6:27 pm EDT Update
During the season, at least one prominent member of the organization viewed Miles Bridges as a target for the club. Cody Martin was also viewed as a target during the season.
Tim Bontemps: Sam Hauser is the only player listed on Boston’s injury report. The Celtics will have their full complement of rotation players available for tomorrow’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.
May 20, 2022 | 4:28 pm EDT Update
Sean Cunningham: Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe & Duke’s AJ Griffin are among the many draft prospects the Sacramento Kings interviewed in Chicago. Sources say others include: LSU’s Tari Eason, Baylor’s Kendall Brown, Duke’s Wendell Moore, NC State’s Terquavion Smith & Purdue’s Trevion Williams.