The L.A. D-Fenders will head back to the court in November, but will do so with a new head coach. Former D-Fenders head coach Eric Musselman announced on Tuesday, that he has taken a job offer as an assistant coach with the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Musselman is one of two professional coaches hired by ASU. He will be working side by side with ASU head coach Herb Sendek, and newly hired assistant coach Larry Greer. Greer worked as a scout for Houston, and was an assistant coach for the Portland Trail Blazers last year.
Musselman leaves his D-Fenders after having the best regular season record in NBA D-League history standing at 38-12. During his first year with the team, Musselman helped the development of six top NBA D-League prospects, and had a total of eight players from his roster receive call-ups to play in the NBA.
In his only year as head coach for the D-Fenders Musselman helped his team to the NBA D-League Finals for the first time in franchise history, won their first ever NBA D-League Development Champion for the regular season and was named the 2012 NBA Development League Coach of the Year.
At the ASU press conference Mussleman released this statement:
“I’m personally extremely excited to be here. The pro game has been very good to me, but for the last five or six years I’ve had a great interest in trying to get into the right situation at the collegiate level and a big reason I’m here is Coach Sendek and his reputation of being such a great x and o coach and I feel like I’m coming here to learn. Hopefully I can give back some as well but it’s a unique situation obviously with Steve having the NBA experience and Coach Sendek looking for NBA type guys and as coach was doing his research, I was trying to do research as well because I felt like I had a really good job being part of the Lakers family coaching their development league team.”
“All the research about Arizona State, I couldn’t find any reason not to do it. Even Dedrique’s reputation, we have a lot of mutual friends and in a couple days I’ve learned a tremendous amount already and will continue to learn from both Coach Sendek and Dedrique as well as Coach Greer. So I feel extremely excited to be a part of this family and can’t wait for the season to get started and the impact that a collegiate coach can have on their players.”
The Sun Devils hope to have a new look this season, and have a better performance than last year. ASU was 10-21 overall finishing the season winning only six of their last 12 games. Coach Sendek is optimistic that with the recruitment of Greer and Musselman will attract high-power recruits.
It’s no doubt that Musselman’s deep knowledge of the game will help the struggling ASU program, but his presence will be greatly missed this season as the D-Fenders look to once again make it to the NBA D-League Finals.
Surprisingly, Musselman isn’t the only D-League head coach making headlines. Earlier this week Austin Toros head coach Brad Jones announced he has accepted an assistant coaching position with the Utah Jazz. Jones led the Toros to the NBA D-League Finals last year, where they defeated the L.A. D-Fenders.
Also the Tulsa 66ers head coach Dale Osbourne has left the team, and accepted to join the coaching staff for the Portland Trail Blazers. Osbourne was promoted to head coach for the 66ers in December 2011, after spending three seasons as an assistant.
It will be a new look for many D-League teams this upcoming season, and it’s still unclear who will fill the shoes of these head coaches.