clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Roundtable: Picking Alvin Gentry's defensive lead assistant

New, comments

For the New Orleans Pelicans, it's crucial to bring in a coach who checks the boxes that Gentry fails to do so.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Oleh Kosel: If Ron Adams won't leave Golden State, give me Don Newman. During my evaluation of Ettore Messina, I came across Newman and walked away convinced of his abilities. His specialty since 2004 has been defense and he spent 7+years learning and refining his strategies with the Spurs. Most recently, he has spent the last several seasons with the Washington Wizards and helped Randy Wittman field the 5th best defensive squadthis past season.

Having outlined my worries about Gentry and the parts necessary for his system yesterday, one way to alleviate some concerns would be to bring in a knowledgeable and respected defensive mind that wouldn't be likely to leave anytime soon. Newman checks this box better than most as he's already 58 years and his window for head coaching jobs has closed.

In 2011, the Phoenix Suns were unable to lure him out of San Antonio to become their lead defensive assistant. Maybe Gentry has better luck this time around with Dell Demps placing the phone call?

If Newman is a no go, I wouldn't mind seeing Adrian Griffin get a shot. With Tom Thibodeau chased out of Chicago, you can expect his assistant coaches will be looking for employment now too. He had been with Thib's since 2010, and before that, Scott Skiles. The man knows defense, but he is considered to be a 'player-friendly' Thibodeau. If that's the case, sign me up!

David Fisher: Don Newman, assistant with the Washington Wizards, is the most likely choice from my research. Newman was born in New Orleans and went to Brother Martin. He was an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs from 2004-2012; Dell Demps worked in the Spurs front office from 2005-2010. In 2011 Newman was interviewed by Alvin Gentry to become the defensive assistant in Phoenix, a job that ultimately went to Memphis Grizzlies assistant Elston Turner. Newman joined the Wizards in July 2012 as a defensive-minded assistant according to Bullets Forever. The Wizards were 21st in defense during the 2011-12 season without Newman. They finished fifth in 2012-13, eighth in 2013-14, and fifth last season. Defensive reputation, confirmed. New Orleans roots. Connections to both Gentry and Demps. This is a no-brainer.

However, stretching our legs a bit, another name that could come up is Pete Myers. Myers was a long-time assistant in Chicago under Tim Floyd, Bill Cartwright, Scott Skiles, Jim Boylan, and Vinny Del Negro. When Mark Jackson was hired by the Golden State Warriors Myers came along as an assistant. Myers was the head coach of the summer league team in 2012, a roster which included then-rookies Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, and Draymond Green. Myers, like Newman, also interviewed to be the defensive assistant in Phoenix with Gentry.

Kevin Barrios: I'm worried that I'm just going with the familiar name, but I really did like Mike Malone. I loved his between quarter interviews as a Hornets' assistant. He seemed to really understand what was working, what wasn't and what needed to be done to fix lapses. Also, he's a hard ass, which we will need to counter Alvin Gentry's, "Good Cop" persona. He did great work here, seemed to be very good in Golden State and had the Kings playing good ball until DeMarcus Cousins got sick and ownership did dumb stuff.

For an out-of-left-field suggestion, what about David Robinson? I'm pretty sure his kids are grown and out of the house. He was an agile up-and-down the court big man sort of like Anthony Davis. He will certainly sort out any discipline problems. He's another Popovich guy with championship experience. Another idea (but not to provide the defense) is Chris Webber. Anthony Davis could benefit from working with C-Webb on a post-up game and picking up tips on facilitating from the post. Webber was a great passer and he played up tempo under Adelman — especially when Jason Williams was throwing him lobs from half court.

Nico Bagio: If I had my choice, I'd hire Tom Thibodeau. (But I don't think that'll happen.)

Chris Cucchiara: I would love for Mike Malone to come back as the lead defensive assistant/associate head coach. He has proven to be a solid NBA defensive coach and he would have better tools to play with in NOLA than he did in Sacramento.

Peyton Fine: Tom Thibodeau. I tweeted about the dream of combining Gentry's offensive genius with Thibodeau's defensive mastery. However, it just is not going to happen for so many reasons.

So, to be realistic, I really like Kenny Payne, associate head coach at Kentucky. Payne recruited and developed Davis, and keeping Davis is the key to our success. Payne played all over the world professionally, has experience coaching and developing young talent, and is a recruiter by nature.

In an NBA where players are consistently shuffling teams, having a coach whose job is to convince young athletes to come to a particular place is an added and necessary bonus. Is Payne the best defensive mind available? Not even close. Is he a very practical choice for our team in the current landscape of the NBA? I think so.

Kyle Gahagan: My choice for lead assistant to Gentry would be Terry Porter. He has previous head coaching experience (Milwaukee & Phoenix), familiarity with Alvin Gentry when both were coaching with the Suns, and was a defensive minded player during his career on the court.

Additionally, he would be able to help focus on improving the play of the point guards on the roster due to his success at that position in the NBA in the 80's and 90's. Porter would likely be enticed with joining a coaching staff that is better built to win now than the one he is currently a part of in the Minnesota Timberwolves, the last placed team in the NBA for the 2014-15 season.

Quentin Haynes: Mike Malone -- don’t think it’s really a debate either. Malone was key in helping Golden State improve as a defense and with him at the helm, you have someone who can take some of the defensive assignments and help Gentry turn the Pelicans into a top 10 defense. That said, I’m curious to see how Gentry uses what he learned from Adams during his tenure in Golden State.

Matty RobinsonBrian Shaw is someone I would love to have, but he's likely going to the Warriors. If I couldn't convince Shaw or Ron Adams, I would go for Don Newman. He has connections to New Orleans and Dell Demps, and his defensive mind would pair nicely with Alvin Gentry.

Zachary JundaMike Brown. I know there's a recent stench surrounding Brown because his last two head coaching stints were...well "disasters" is probably the nicest way to put it. But let's be fair here, is it really Brown's fault the Lakers panic-fired him five games into the 2012-13 season? People forget that the year before his Lakers won 41 games in the lockout shortened season and got to the Western Conference Semifinals. Or, what about Brown only winning 33 games with the Cavs the year before LeBron James came back to Cleveland? That's totally his fault too? Come on now.

Say what you want about his LeBron James-less years as a head coach, but the man knows defense. In the five years Brown was coaching the Cavs that had LeBron James, Cleveland was top-10 in points allowed all five years, peaking at number one in the 2008-09 season. Those teams also placed 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 11th and 14th in defensive rating. In Brown's one full season as the Lakers coach, Los Angeles was 15th in points allowed and 13th in rating which was fairly comparable to what New Orleans posted this past season. The same logic applies to Brown's Cleveland II Electric Boogaloo season when he dragged those sorry scrubs to 16th in points and 19th in defensive rating.

And hey, Brown might even take the job for the love of the game since he's still being paid to not coach by Cleveland and Los Angeles.