Surprising precisely no one, the Bucks announced (acknowledged might be a better term) the additions of lead assistant Jim Cleamons, big man coach Scott Williams and player development coach Josh Oppenheimer to Larry Drew's staff today. They join the previously announced Bob Bender and Kenosha native Nick Van Exel, both of whom worked with Drew in Atlanta. The Bucks also officially announced former Pacers GM David Morway as John Hammond's new assistant GM, replacing the departed Jeff Weltman, who got a hefty raise to take a similar job assisting Masai Ujiri in Toronto.
On paper it's hard to argue with Drew's choice of lieutenants. Cleamons is no stranger to great teams, having won 10 championship rings as a player (with the Lakers) and coach (with Phil Jackson in both Chicago and L.A.). He'll be dealing with a much different type of situation in Milwaukee, but the Bucks could use an infusion of high standards, right? Meanwhile, the remainder of the staff seems particularly well-suited to helping develop the Bucks' youngsters, which should be high on everyone's list of requirements. Van Exel figures to tutor point guards Brandon Knight and Nate Wolters, Williams will work with John Henson, Larry Sanders and the rest of the Bucks' bigs, and Oppenheimer will likely spend lots of quality time helping Giannis Antetokounmpo (among others) with, you know, everything.
Some more on each:
- Eric wrote more about the Cleamons hiring when Yahoo first reported it on August 13.
- Williams played for Cleamons in Chicago and won three titles with the Bulls before a short but memorable stint in Milwaukee. You know the one good team the Bucks have had in the last two decades? Yep, Scotty was on it. Sadly, the league screwed him out of a chance to play in game seven of that year's Eastern finals in Philly, though he did return for a cup of coffee with FS Wisconsin in 07/08. He departed the following season for a color commentator gig in Phoenix, though he moved onto coaching in the D-League shortly thereafter. He talked to Jim Paschke about his new job back in July, and spent the early part of August working with Miroslav Raduljica in Belgrade (some short video here).
- Taking over the development role previously held by Bill Peterson, Oppenheimer lacks direct NBA coaching experience but is long on experience coaching elite NBA players. His client list has no shortage of young stars including Paul George, Russell Westbrook, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Bradley Beal.
- The addition of Morway may be more important than any of the coaches, but as always it's difficult to tell what kind of influence he's had on the Bucks' day-to-day decision-making. The obvious angle: Morway presided over the Pacers' drafting of Paul George and acquired Roy Hibbert on draft night, so he's no stranger to the "build without tanking" thing that the Bucks seem intent on trying to replicate. But for all the good things that happened in Indy during his tenure, Morway's relationship with team president Larry Bird deteriorated over time and ultimately led to his ouster in June 2012. Ironically, it was Morway's inability to make a deal for O.J. Mayo that apparently contributed to Bird's decision to send him packing.
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