Been gone for a little bit, but I should be around now and just when I come back the Thunder have a new headline worth talking about and that is the hiring of two new assistant coaches.
From the story on ESPN.com
Maurice Cheeks and Rex Kalamian have been added as assistant coaches by the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team said Friday.
"We are thrilled to add Maurice and Rex to our coaching staff," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "They bring a wealth of NBA experience and solid work ethic that will help our players continued development."
Cheeks was head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers for 2005-08. He had a 284-286 (.498) record as a head coach with Philadelphia and Portland.
Kalamian was an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings from 2007-09. Prior to joining the Kings, Kalamian was also an assistant with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers.
Admittedly I do not know much about Kalamanian other than what I read after a quick google search and basically he appears to be a jack of all trades who specializes in "player development" which with a young roster is something we can always use.
I would rather focus on Mo Cheeks and what this move can potentially mean for Russell because as far as I am concerned that is the reason you make a move like this. The best thing about Mo Cheeks as a player was his basketball IQ and that is probably other than the jumper the weakest part of Russell's game in the transition to PG. That said watching Russ in summer league there was a noticeable improvement in his court vision, but with the disarray that is summer league and the lack of comparable talent for him to compete against there is no telling about the full scope of his decision making as compared to last year.
Cheeks was also All NBA Defensive First Team four times from 1983-86 and a spot on the second team in 1987. Russell has that kind of defensive ability and if Mo can hone that to be consistent possession to possession RW0 will see the All Defense team plenty of times in his career. Maurice Cheeks was a career 52% shooter and was never below 46% and if you combine that with his understanding of the intricacies of the game, control of the ball with low turnover rates, strong assist rate to the athletic ability that Russell has and we could be looking at not a very good PG, but potentially one of the top few PG's in the league. These are the kinds of moves that are not pure personnel in terms of grabbing great headlines but with the approach that Presti is taking of saving money now and developing this nucleus that make as big if not a bigger impact on the future of this franchise.