I thought a FanShot was a little insufficient for this news, so now here's a whole post about it. It happened on Friday, though it just got out to the news outlets yesterday - former Bakersfield Jam head coach Scott Roth will join the Golden State Warriors as an assistant coach this season. Roth, if you'll recall, was let go by Bakersfield amid their whole "we have to shut down because we spent too much money on a practice facility, oh wait, we'll still exist but now we'll play in our practice facility and make season tickets prohibitively expensive" business. As Jam owner David Higdon put it at the time, "we've agreed that it's in his best interests that he is not retained." Though arguably it wasn't in Bakersfield's best interest that he was let go, given his skill as a coach and the team's subsequent mess of a coaching search.
Following Roth's...termination? Release? Whatever you want to call it, he immediately became a hot coaching commodity based largely on his player development skills, and his stock rose even higher after the good work he did coaching the D-league Select team at this year's Vegas Summer League. That group played hard all week and surprised several teams that were stocked with first-round talent, and were one of the biggest stories coming out of Summer League. His name was named as a possible assistant coach with several NBA teams, including Sacramento, Minnesota and Toronto, though those first few positions were filled by Bryan Gates and Bill Laimbeer, respectively. Then the Warriors came calling.
This isn't Roth's first NBA job, nor even his first job with Golden State head coach Don Nelson. Roth worked for the Dallas Mavericks when Nelson was the head coach there, first as the director of scouting in 1997, then as an assistant coach for a few seasons. From there he went on to Vancouver (and then to Memphis when the team moved) and Milwaukee, and also coached the Dominican Republic's national team. Roth spent several seasons in the NBA as a player as well after being drafted by the Spurs in 1985.
The simple fact is that Roth keeps getting hired because he has a good track record. His specialty is said to be working with big men (he helped Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki adapt their games to the NBA, and he worked with Hasheem Thabeet in the weeks leading up to this year's NBA Draft), but his success developing players isn't limited to the guys inside. Derrick Byars, Trey Johnson and Nick Lewis all benefited from playing under Roth. He also has done well on a team level as well. He actually became the Jam's head coach midway through the 2007-2008 season after they started 3-15, though that team was pretty terrible when he got there, they won 11 total games. This past season, though, the Jam won 10 of their first 12 games and earned a playoff berth, which is a pretty remarkable turnaround.
This is great for Roth, obviously, and it's a great hire for the Warriors, who have several players like Anthony Randolph, Anthony Morrow and Brandan Wright who need to start harnessing their raw ability and develop it into workable NBA games. It also continues the recent trend of D-League coaches becoming NBA assistants, such as the aforementioned Gates and Robert Pack, formerly of Rio Grande Valley and now of the New Orleans Hornets. This is definitely a positive for both the D-League and NBA teams, as perhaps more coaching "prospects" will see opportunity for advancement from the D-League and start their coaching careers there, and NBA teams will gain a pool of experienced coaching candidates rather than giving a guy his first job and being out of luck if he can't handle it. Congratulations again to Coach Roth and to the Warriors.