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Former Ute Bryant Continues Rapid Rise with Knicks

On Tuesday, the New York Knicks hired former University of Utah guard (2005-2008) Johnnie Bryant as the Associate Head Coach to Tom Thibodeau. The move may seem aggressive to outsiders, but the fast-rising coach has the respect of the league for his attention to detail and player development skills.

Bryant first caught the eyes of the Utah Jazz organization as Paul Millsap’s personal coach. He then joined the player development coach under Tyrone Corbin and was retained under Quin Snyder. During that time frame, he helped oversee the rapid rise of Gordon Hayward, Donovan Mitchell, and several other guys that went from fringe players to solid NBA role players.

Mitchell is set for a huge pay raise, coming soon. The New York Knicks are his hometown team, but they’ll likely have to wait at least five years for a legit shot at him, unless they plan on trying to sell the Jazz the farm at one point.

So realistically, will Bryant be there when Mitchell becomes an unrestricted free agent?

Johnnie Bryant (left), with Phoenix Suns guard Ricky Rubio (center) and Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (right)
Johnnie Bryant (left), with Phoenix Suns guard Ricky Rubio (center) and Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (right)

When the Knicks hired former Jazz Vice President of Player Personnel Walt Ferrin, they showed that they were sick of their two decades of futility. Therefore, maybe the organization is about to turn the corner. Even with those changes made, the ownership of James Dolan leaves everyone around the league skeptical of any future success.

The more likely scenario to happen within those five years before Mitchell’s unrestricted free agency, has some Runnin’ Utes intrigue. Head Coach Larry Krystkowiak’s contract expires in 20203 and the buyout is significantly lesser after 2021. Once thought of as an intriguing stretch to hire as a replacement in Salt Lake City, Bryant’s name has gained more and more credibility at a rapid rate. He’s been talked about privately among some donors, the last few years.

Unless Dolan decides to shock everyone with the next few years and name Bryant as Head Coach to try and lure Mitchell—this is the Knicks front office—Bryant will be a leading, if not the prime candidate around 2023.

Of course those two scenarios are looking two to three years ahead. If the Runnin’ Utes can turn the corner with the talent they have coming in this coming season, there’s also a talented and more than qualified successor sitting in the wings in Tommy Connor.

Congratulations to Johnnie Bryant. He’s a rising star and if you’re a Ute fan, it’s now time to keep a close eye on him with the Knicks.