He could have positioned himself a candidate with the Brooklyn Nets through connections to Mikhail Prokhorov.
But instead Quin Snyder -- who spent the last two seasons with Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow as Ettore Messina's top assistant coach -- is on his way back to the NBA as an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks according to one person close to Snyder's hiring.
Snyder will be a part of new head coach Mike Budenholzer's staff with the Hawks, as the official announcement should come before the end of this week.
"It is sad to say goodbye to Quin. We are losing a friend, great coach, great person who was able to establish close relationship with many of people here in CSKA. I am happy that he will continue his career on the highest level," Messina was quoted in a press release.
"It will be not easy to substitute him. Still we will try to make the best possible choice."
During his two seasons with CSKA, Snyder helped Moscow advance to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four before falling to eventual champs Olympiacos in 2012 and CSKA returned to the Final Four this season, facing the same fate in the first round versus Olympiacos. While CSKA failed to gain titles on that stage, the club repeated as VTB League champs in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
While Snyder's connection to Denver (Snyder coached Josh Kroenke at Missouri) and in-roads to Brooklyn (Prokhorov formerly owned CSKA Moscow) were both reported and speculated, Snyder's relationships in Atlanta truly helped pave his way back to the NBA. Not only is Snyder's wife Amy from the area, but Hawks' GM Danny Ferry and Snyder were teammates at Duke at reached the Final Four in 1989, before losing to Georgetown.
The reunion with Ferry and chance to build upon a proven San Antonio Spurs model alongside Budenholzer is part of Snyder's continuous journey around the world and another coaching stint in the NBA.
Some, if not all, who follow college basketball, the D-League and the NBA are well aware of Snyder's journey across the game coming up as an assistant coach with Duke before rising as a coaching prodigy to Missouri in 1999. What you probably don't know is Snyder almost left it all behind and walked away from the game.
Snyder took over for a coaching legend in Norm Stewart and led the program to the NCAA Tournament his first four years at Mizzou, including an Elite Eight run in 2002. That was before the schnitzel hit the fan: 17 NCAA allegations plagued much of Snyder's time with the Tigers, eventually leading to his firing in 2006.
What followed next was nearly torn from a page out of The Bourne Identity.
Snyder went off the grid.
He lived with now Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doug Collins (who would welcome Snyder to his staff in 2010), took off for Costa Rica and lived in North Carolina. Away from the game, success and the fame were gone and replaced by doubts and some heartache as Snyder also went through a divorce. Yet for someone who was married to the game, it wasn't just as simple as walking away for Snyder, although he contemplated leaving the game behind.
Redemption returned thanks to the D-League and the Austin Toros. After three successful seasons in the D-League, Snyder took his coaching ability to the NBA thanks to former housemate Doug Collins in Philly, but little did Snyder know then during the 2010-11 season with the Sixers where his life would lead next. In July 2011, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike Brown appointed Snyder to his coaching staff and it seemed that Snyder would settle in for the long haul and chance to even claim an NBA title -- maybe multiple titles.
Even Synder knows nothing is forever.
North Carolina came calling, and Snyder used the early offseason to interview with the Charlotte Bobcats for their head coaching vacancy. It was his second head coaching interview over the last two summers, with Snyder speaking with GM David Kahn in June 2011 about the head coaching job with the Minnesota Timberwolves -- a report Snyder denied when he eventually accepted the assistant gig with the Lakers. The ironic part of the story here is, Kahn was the one who originally hired Snyder to coach the Toros in 2007 back when they were a Timberwolves affiliate, and prior to the San Antonio Spurs acquiring the franchise that same year. Despite being a finalist in Charlotte -- and a candidate with the Orlando Magic -- Snyder was passed over and all signs pointed to him returning to the sidelines with Brown in Los Angeles. Then a new sign popped up on Snyder's coaching map.
Next stop Moscow.
At 45 years old and experiencing his first chance to coach in Europe, Snyder couldn't be in a more perfect position even if he is 6083 miles away from sunny Los Angeles. When it comes to powerhouse clubs outside of the NBA, CSKA is as tough as they come having claimed the 2006 and 2008 Euroleague titles. Lets not even mention losing a heartbreaking finals last season to Olympiacos.
He connects with players. He is wise beyond his years in knowing and coaching the game. And his sideline leadership would easily be an asset to any head coach. So when people snark at Snyder's decision to leave one assistant coaching job for another one all the way around the world, pause and remember exactly what the man has endured to get to this point.
Messina made Snyder an offer he couldn't refuse as his lead assistant after the two men came to know each other during their time with the Lakers when Messina served as a consultant in Los Angeles. For Snyder, the best advice Messina probably gave him was to join Messina for a run at a Euroleague title with CSKA. And while they came up short on two occasions, the opportunity and time in Moscow eventually bought Snyder a little time to see how the NBA landscape could drastically change in the matter of 24 months.
For Quin Snyder, a patient process and promising endeavor in Atlanta could actually mean a step closer to a head coaching job of his own in the NBA.