Dean Demopoulos = Gone!
Joe Prunty = Gone!
Maurice Lucas = Gone (due to illness).
Monty Williams = New Orleans Hornet!
Bernie Bickerstaff = Hired!
McMillan on Sunday said he is “looking to make changes” with his staff but refused to say which coaches will be replaced. When asked if Demopoulos and Prunty were given two weeks notice earlier this month, McMillan was short.
“I don’t want to go into that,’’ McMillan said.
Demopoulos on Sunday said he is under contract until June 30, and has not been told one way or the other on his status for next season. He has coached with McMillan for nine seasons, including four in Seattle.
Prunty, who just finished his second season in Portland, declined comment.
The initial report is that Bickerstaff is McMillan’s new “right-hand man,” while Bill Bayno and Kaleb Canales still have jobs. While Timberwolves’ assistant John-Blair Bickerstaff (Bernie’s son) is named as a possible replacement, no word on who else will be on the bench starting next season.
Hey, I heard Tom Izzo is available.
How will the reported assistant coaching staff shake-up impact the Portland Trail Blazers on the court?
Joe Prunty was a fairly recent addition to the Blazers staff, originally hired to offset the loss of the now-returned Bill Bayno to Loyola. The most visible impact that Prunty had was his input on the defensive schemes that Portland used against the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas swept Portland in the regular season the year before, but only won one game against Portland in the 2009-10 season. Prunty is rumored to be on newly minted Nets head coach Avery Johnson’s shortlist since Prunty worked under Johnson in Dallas.
Maurice Lucas has been ill with pneumonia and bladder cancer and his status going forward is uncertain.
Dean Demopoulos, who recently interviewed with the Atlanta Hawks, has worked under Nate McMillan since 2001. Demopoulos is widely recognized as a “zone guy” after spending 17 seasons under legendary master of the zone defense and hall of famer John Chaney at Temple University. In fact, Demopoulos was interviewed on NBA TV after the Phoenix Suns’ use of the zone defense lead to a game five victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in this year’s Western Conference Finals.
Demopoulos is also known as The Turnover King because of his distaste for turnovers.
Both the usage of zone defense and a turnover averse offense have been hallmarks of Nate McMillan’s system since he has been a head coach. Is the dismissal of Demopoulos indicative that McMillan is seeking to diversify his approach? Possibly, however the choice of Bernie Bickerstaff to be McMillan’s alleged right-hand man is hardly a signal towards innovation. Rather, the addition of Bickerstaff is an addition of experience. Bickerstaff has been an assistant coach, a head coach, a general manager, and an executive vice president.
Now, this is just conjecture, but it seems to me that the addition of Bickerstaff, the addition of someone with a great deal of front office and personnel experience, is exactly the type of addition that a coach might make if he anticipated broadening his role. If Kevin Pritchard really is on his way out, perhaps Nate McMillan envisions stepping into Pritchard’s shoes, taking on more of a Greg Popovich style role with more input on personnel decisions. Could this be the real reason behind McMillan’s refusal to take a long term contract extension?
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.