Last month, PJ Hairston made history as the first ever first round NBA Draft selection coming straight out of the D-League. As fans of The Association's minor league continue to keep tabs on Hairston's career with the Charlotte Hornets, they're also likely to find a couple of extra familiar faces on the team's bench.
Both Pat Delany (Sioux Falls Skyforce) and Steve Hetzel (Canton Charge) have accepted assistant coaching positions with Charlotte following respective successful head coaching stints in the D-League.
NBA Summer League is a fantastic opportunity for such new hires to work on getting acclimated with their new staff and the team's respective players. Despite such a busy time, RidiculousUpside.com caught up with Coach Delany as he reflected upon his time in Sioux Falls.
"It was hard to leave, not only because of the relationships I had built in Miami, but the chance I had to be a head coach in the D-League. I think the league is headed in a great direction," he said.
Coach Delany continued, "The opportunities you have there, such as the one I was given to work for a great ownership group in Sioux Falls, are only going to help you in life. I was very fortunate to be with a great group of players that bought into our philosophy. I'm going to miss it."
Of course, the D-League takes pride in seeing its alumni (coaches, front office executives, officials, and others included) move on up and take advantage of new opportunities.
Looking forward to a new beginning in Charlotte, the longtime Heat employee added, "I'm excited for this. I'm very grateful to Coach Steve Clifford, but I also realize I don't get this opportunity without the chances I was given in Miami. They put a lot of trust in me to do some scouting, video work, and coaching the D-League team. I was very fortunate, but I'm looking forward to joining this great staff [in Charlotte] and helping in any way possible."
And as Coach Delany departs, a new door will open for the Skyforce to usher in a head coach. Could the team turn to Octavio De La Grana? Another longtime Heat employee, De La Grana assisted Delany this past season, and is known for being a great communicator with various youngsters. He easily relates, ensuring his players take to him early on and instill trust immediately.
"Octavio is a great person. I've known him for a long time. He has a great feel for players, having been at the high school level and then now with our NBA guys," Coach Delany added. "Obviously, he took the opportunity to learn more this year. He helped me. The future is bright for him. Whether or not [being a head coach in Sioux Falls] is the route he or the Heat want to go, I think he's going to be really successful."