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Lakers assistant coaching candidate profile: Tim Grgurich

Tim2

This is the fourth post in a series looking at potential Lakers assistant coaches. We'll profile Tim Grgurich, who, The Times' Broderick Turner reported, Lakers Coach Mike Brown is "expected to try and pry" from his current assistant coaching gig with the Dallas Mavericks.

Background: Obviously, any hire wouldn't happen until after the NBA Finals between Dallas and Miami, possibly as early as Thursday. Grgurich joined the Mavericks in somewhat of a consulting role, with management giving him flexibility to attend practices and games as he chooses. He had unexpectedly left the Denver Nuggets last summer, with the Denver Post's Benjamin Hochman and Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reporting Grgurich's disappointment Denver didn't re-sign executive and longtime friend Mark Warkentien. Grgurich spent 12 seasons coaching under George Karl, which included a trip to the 1996 NBA Finals with the Seattle Sonics and five division titles. He also had assistant coaching stints with the Portland Trail Blazers (2004-05 and 1998-2001, including two Western Conference Finals appearances), Phoenix Suns (2002-04), Milwaukee Bucks (2001-02) and Sonics (1991-98). 

Before coaching in the NBA, Grgurich spent 12 seasons as an assistant under Jerry Tarkanian at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where the program won the 1990 NCAA championship, made three Final Four appearances and featured future NBA stars such as Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony during Grgurich's tenure. After lettering three times in both basketball and baseball at the University of Pittsburgh, he eventually assumed head coaching duties in 1975 and led the Panthers to a 71-70 record and one trip to the NIT.

Connection to Brown: Consider Brown's revelation to Hochman about Grgurich when he was coaching the Cavaliers during the 2009-10 season: ""He's probably, single-handedly, the most important guy who helped me get to the seat I'm in now." Brown as a former Nuggets video coordinator served as a counselor at Grgurich's famously secretive summer camps at Las Vegas, which consistently attract the best NBA talent. Brown recalled Grgurich's willingness to throw Brown in charge of certain drills. "With him taking me under his wing and giving me credibility alone, that's helped me move up and be bigger than I was in a lot of people's eyes," Brown said. "He took a chance on me. He taught me a lot in terms of wisdom, how to interact with players, how to teach players and how to be yourself, and that's the most important thing. And I did listen some, because that's one of the reasons I'm here."

Style: In the same article, Karl described Grgurich as the "best assistant coach in the NBA" and every single publication written about him indicates the high level of respect players and coaches have around him. Grgurich has rarely talked to the media, but there's plenty of anecdotes that illustrate how he's cultivated strong relationships with players. Carmelo Anthony frequently talked with Grgurich even when he shut off talks with other Nuggets officials after refusing to sign a three-year, $65-million extension. Hochman also indicated that Grgurich played the "good cop" role for players falling in Karl's doghouse, most notably J.R. Smith.

Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle said in 2004 when he coached Indiana that Grgurich and Pete Newell had been the "two major forces in the development of players and coaches in the last 20 years." Mavericks forward Shawn Marion indicated he liked Grgurich's ability to teach the game's nuances that excite players. Grgurich's annual camps in Las Vegas, which initially started out with him working with Sonics guard Gary Payton, then more Seattle players are now so well-attended that NBA.com's Steve Aschburner reports many NBA teams send their assistants and other personnel to check in on their players' progress throughout the week. Even though the camps are off-limits to media and agents, the Boston Globe's Shira Springer found out the camps are similar to NBA preseason workouts, including drills, demonstrations and teaching fundamentals. 

-- Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Tim Grgurich, center, was an assistant under George Karl, left, for 12 seasons before accepting a consulting position this season with the Dallas Mavericks. Lakers Coach Mike Brown, as reported by The Times' Broderick Turner, hopes to add Grgurich to his coaching staff. Credit: Matt Sullivan / Getty Images 

 
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Art,

I’ll give you my top 7.

Lebron
Wade
Rose
Howard
Dirk
Kobe
Durant

Needless to say Kobe is the only one on the list that didn’t play like a top 7 in the playoffs. So his inclusion for 2012 is precarious right now.

LT,

Thanks. I agree about Mike Brown being secure enough to bring in ambitious assistants. I think Messina is a very good hire.

PFunk,

Much to your chagrin Pau is on pace to be a HOFer. He’ll be 31 yrs old when the season starts. He needs to average 16pts/8reb for 5 more seasons to join the illustrious 20,000/10,000 club. Currently 15 players have hit that plateau and each are in the HOF. KG has already surpassed it and Dirk is only 1700 rebounds away (3 seasons). Throw in the fact that Pau was the 2nd best player on two NBA championship teams, MVP of the World Championship, Multiple European Player of the year, 4 time NBA All-star (probably at least 5-6 before he’s finished)…and that is a HOF resume. Even if he falls a little shy of the 20/10 club…his resume will be hard for the HOF committee to bypass.

As great as Kobe is he wouldn’t have two of his rings without Pau’s contributions. I don’t get how you appreciate Kobe greatness…yet distance yourself from the people he acknowledge having a significant contribution to his success like Phil and Pau.

Good Morning Lakerz Blog,

How's everyone on this June gloom monday!?

@LTLF ... Thanks for the superb analysis of the Chris Paul situation. We’ve bumped heads before but usually to do with intangibles related to negotiating. Your analysis on CP3 was spot on. The only thing I would add is that Chris can influence his final destination, be it the Knicks or the Lakers. That would then change the dynamics of what the Hornets would be willing to accept. A second issue is that until the Hornets either extend or trade CP3, the NBA will not be able to sell the franchise. The league may well feel that having an all-star big like Pau to build around might make it easier to sell the franchise because right now CP3’s contract impasse is what is stopped the sale.
....................................
TOM


It's not even just Mike Brown being secure enough to bring in top assistants. He knows that will be a huge variable in determining whether his stint with the Lakers is successful or not

LRob2

re: Throw in the fact that Pau was the 2nd best player on two NBA championship teams, MVP of the World Championship, Multiple European Player of the year, 4 time NBA All-star (probably at least 5-6 before he’s finished)…and that is a HOF resume. Even if he falls a little shy of the 20/10 club…his resume will be hard for the HOF committee to bypass.

my response: the HOF committee will probably ignore Pau's stats and
remember his softness. If the Lakers can win a couple more championships
with him, he makes it. That's just my opinion and doesn't count for jack.

@LTLF... “How do you like them apples?” They stink because you cannot have a defensive oriented team with Pau Gasol at center. The only player out there you trade Drew for would be Dwight. Any move that leaves you with Pau as starting center is going to leave the Lakers vulnerable at the 5.
....................................
@MM ... Excellent point about how important assistants would be to a head coach’s success. It’s been a rule I have always followed as a business owner and executive. You shine mostly through the people you hire to do the work. You even try to find people who could eventually do your job.
...
But there still is a substantial difference between the assistants hired by Phil and those hired by Brown. Phil’s staff was filled with guys who were not considered to be head coaching candidates at this point in their career while Mike has surrounded himself with a group of guys who are right in the heart of the next wave of assistants to get shots at head coaching gigs. I think the result will hopefully be a more vibrant and diversified staff who will challenge the head coach.
....................................
TOM

LT,

>>>The only thing I would add is that Chris can influence his final destination,
>>>be it the Knicks or the Lakers. That would then change the dynamics of
>>>what the Hornets would be willing to accept.

Good point. If CP3 has his heart set on joining Amare & Carmelo in New York, then he can threaten not to extend with the Lakers and thus sour the deal. Or vice versa - if Paul thinks his best chance is with the Lakers, then he might threaten not to extend with New York (or any other team) like Carmelo did last year.

>>>A second issue is that until the Hornets either extend or trade CP3, the
>>>NBA will not be able to sell the franchise.

Not sure I agree, but it's at least a plausible theory. A new potential owner might want to be the one that makes the decision about what to do about CP3. If another rich guy who doesn't care if he loses money buys the team (think Mark Cuban), he might try to convince CP3 to stay by bringing in more talent. Or the new owner might want to make the decision about what assets to get back for CP3.

>>>The league may well feel that having an all-star big like Pau to build
>>>around might make it easier to sell the franchise because right now CP3’s
>>>contract impasse is what is stopped the sale.

But one of the biggest problems with New Orleans is finances. So it's debatable whether better books or a bigger star would be a better selling point for the Hornets. Swapping Paul for Pau makes New Orleans financial situation worse for a longer period of time.

Note that there's a side issue here... New Orleans is near the cap already for next year. Paul+Okafor+Ariza+Jack+Pondexter = 42 million dollars. David West has a player option for 7.5 million. He'll probably opt out to see if he can get more. Carl Landry and Willie Green are unrestricted free agents. Marco Belinelli and Jason Smith are restricted free agents making less than they could on the open market.

So if New Orleans wants to keep their current (7th best in the West) team together, they'll probably have to run the salary back up over the luxury tax to do it. If they want to keep CP3 and Okafor and also keep total salary down, they get worse. If the league is deciding, my bet is they keep one of the three of West, Landry, and Belinelli, and let the other two go.

They're in that nasty middle-of-the pack rut. Not good enough to win titles, but not bad enough to get lottery picks that would add a couple of cheap high quality players.

If the Lakers wanted Belinelli or Smith or Landry, they could probably get them (if the new CBA still has an MLE).

>>>It's not even just Mike Brown being secure enough to bring in top assistants.

I'd argue that without Tom Thibodeau, Doc Rivers wouldn't have a ring yet as a coach, and neither would KG, Ray Allen, or Paul Pierce.

Assistant coaches can make a BIG difference.

hobbitmage & LRob2,

I think Pau is right on the fence for HOF at this point, probably slightly tipping towards being in.

If his NBA career was his only contribution, he'd be more iffy, but his international career pushes him to being pretty likely in at this point.

One more title or one more top 3 finish with Spain or 2 more All-Star games, and he's a lock.

@LTLF ... Thanks for your response. As usual, excellent points. The reality is that there are so many factors involved as well as emotion that it becomes almost impossible to predict what will actually happen. The best we can usually do is to predict what we would LIKE to happen. LOL.
....................................
TOM

@LTLF ... I think your point about the Hall of Fame being a basketball and not NBA venue and Pau’s international accomplishments probably ultimately earning him a place in the HOF. Of course, if he fails to come back next year at his usual level, that could tarnish his reputation to the extent that he doesn’t make it. Hopefully, Pau understands the predicament his is in and will make the necessary changes in his attitude and aggressiveness to keep his career from crashing.
....................................
TOM


Laker Tom - Excellent point, but I do want to clarify. I don't think PJ's coaching staff were a bunch of yes man either. When I talked with them, one of the biggest themes was how PJ truly allowed them to do their job and valued their input. Of course, you can rebuttal with that being coach speak. But they offered very specific andecdotes, such as PJ divvying up specific teams so that each assistant felt a sense of ownership regarding a specific team, Brian Shaw saying that PJ never had a problem when he disagreed with him, PJ relying on Frank Hamblen to draw up the final play, PJ allowing Chuck Person to take ownership of the defensive scheme and PJ allowing Jim Cleamons to work with shooters. PJ was a CEO in which he delegated well. The reason why none of his assistants have done well under his coaching tree is that you need the right amount of talent and support from ownership to implement the teachings. Cleamons and Rambis didn't have that with their head coaching gigs.

@MM... Your point was excellent too and I agree Phil did not surround himself with “yes” men but the point of view of an assistant who still aspires to be a coach is often very different than from an assistant who understands that he will never get a head coaching opportunity. I prefer guys who are ambitious and on the way up rather than guys who may be holding steady or on their way down. It will be interesting to see where Phil’s assistants end up. For one thing, I think a staff like Mike is putting together with future head coaches has a better chance of including a possible successor.
....................................
TOM



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