The New Jersey Nets have made their second head coaching hire during the Mikhail Prokhorov era, bringing aboard Bob MacKinnon to coach the team's NBA D-League affiliate Springfield Armor. The deal will be made official later this afternoon at a press conference.
The Nets, who took over the basketball operations of the NBA Development League's Armor earlier this offseason, hired MacKinnon after unceremoniously allowing Dee Brown to walk. Brown eventually ended up taking a job with the Detroit Pistons after guiding the Armor to a 20-80 record during his stint as the only coach in the franchise's young history.
MacKinnon is no stranger to the D-League, or coaching in general, for that matter. The son of Bob MacKinnon, Sr., (a longtime ABA/NBA coach and front office executive) the younger MacKinnon has previously coached the Colorado 14ers and Idaho Stampede in the D-League before coaching in China this past season. Prior to guiding the 14ers to a championship during the 2008-09 season, his first in the D-League, MacKinnon had been employed as a scout for the Los Angeles Lakers following stints as an assistant coach at Notre Dame, North Carolina and Marshall.
MacKinnon has been one of the more interesting coaches in the recent history of the D-League considering his prerogative has been sending players to the NBA and then focusing on winning games. That strategy may have been what led to his undoing in Idaho, but is the perfect strategy for an NBA team looking to develop talent in the minor leagues -- and, really, the perfect strategy for a league named the Development League.
"The great thing about basketball is that it's a player's game," MacKinnon told D-League Digest a couple of years ago. "When I got the job last year, I figured ‘What's most important to the players?' The most important things are minutes and numbers. Points, rebounds, assists, that kind of thing. As a coach I thought, ‘What can I do to take some of their concerns away and make it more about winning?' I thought if we could get our possessions up, the way that we play will be determined more by possessions than by minutes. If we get our possessions up, the numbers will take care of themselves."
In his two seasons as a D-League head coach, MacKinnon has helped develop plenty of players on their way to an NBA call-up including Anthony Tolliver, Sundiata Gaines, Coby Karl and Eddie Gill while also having a hand in the development of NBA-assigned players Sonny Weems and Patty Mills as well as John Lucas III, Sean Williams and Cheikh Samb.
The Armor, along with the Nets, have found themselves a solid coach.