Running with Zaza

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What Can Brett Brown do for you?

Rick Sund and the Atlanta Hawks need to hire another assistant coach. I would have argued last week that keeping both Larry Drew and Bob Bender is a mistake, but Rick Sund already has crossed that bridge. David Fizdale probably should have been kept and let one of the other guys go. Now, the Hawks need a coach to replace Fizdale. I had some other coaches--older guys with lots of NBA experience that could have helped Coach Woodson with strategy, X’s and O’s, maybe end of game situations--in mind to replace Drew and Bender. That column now is in the trash. Maybe later this year, I will look back and wish I would have posted that before Sund announced the decision. To replace Coach Fizdale, the Hawks need a younger guy with a proven track record of developing young talent. I combed the NBA coaching staffs of the most successful teams of this young century and found the perfect replacement on the San Antonio staff: Brett Brown.

You cannot underestimate what being on the Spurs staff means in terms of learning, experience, and understanding what it takes to win. Understanding the commitment needed to win in the NBA sounds like an old coaches’ cliché, but that statement is true and meaningful. What are the positives for hiring Brett Brown? He has spent seven seasons with the Spurs. Five seasons working in the critical player development area. Players who have developed during that time include Tony Parker and Manu Gnobili. Additionally, Brown has head coaching experience at the professional level. He coached with great success at the highest level in Australia and he is used to being apart of winning organizations. He also played for Rick Pitino in college, so he has a long pedigree of being around winning coaches.

The problem for the Hawks is that Brown probably will not leave San Antonio. However, he is a recently promoted assistant that might want to get away from Popovich in order to spread his wings a little. Winning with Atlanta is a way to improve his stock, so that he can return to the Spurs as the top assistant when Mike Budenholzer gets an NBA head coaching position in the next couple of seasons. Budenholzer clearly will succeed Popovich when he moves permanently to the front office like Pat Riley. That move seems likely in the next couple of years as Tim Duncan gets older. Brown could also position himself for the Hawks head coaching position in a couple of seasons, especially if Erik Spoelstra does well in Miami. That would open the door for some young, up and coming coaches to get opportunities. Rick Sund has to bring out his salesman skills and sell Brett Brown on this move. Upgrading the coaching staff is very important for 2008-2009 and Sund only has one chance to make the right hire.


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