Bryan Gates Rumors
Some early names circulating on the front-office grapevine include Michael Malone, who was fired earlier this season in Sacramento. Malone was the lead assistant under Monty Williams in New Orleans when Connelly was there. Bryan Gates, a highly regarded assistant in New Orleans, would be an interesting candidate in the Dave Joerger mold — having won a D-League championship and four coach-of-the-year awards in the minors before paying his dues as an NBA assistant.
But given Denver’s history over underpaying coaches and front-office executives, the search may veer in the direction of the up-and-coming as opposed to established names. That would favor a candidate like Bryan Gates, or Boston assistant Jay Larranaga, coach of the Irish national team, league sources say.
On another trip, Gates and Nurse left Oklahoma with the team at 4 a.m. and drove to Wichita, Kan., for a flight to Newark, N.J. They won a game that night and allowed themselves a brief moment of celebration before heading back on the road. “What a day,” Nurse said. “We woke up and the sun was rising over the great plains of Kansas. We won a basketball game and watched the sun set over the Statue of Liberty.” They’re all connected by the memories and the journeys — and by the career paths of fugitives. Joerger was Ticknor’s assistant with the Dakota Wizards in Bismarck, N.D., of the D-League. (That team has since relocated to Santa Cruz, Calif.) Joerger replaced Ticknor as the head coach in Bismarck; Ticknor later replaced Joerger in the same job. Gates was Ticknor’s assistant with the Rapid City Thrillers of the IBA (which later merged with the CBA). Ticknor now works for Joerger in Memphis. And so on. “I was married in the morning and coached a game that night in Sioux City, Iowa,” Ticknor said. “Actually, I remember we lost that game, and so does my wife. She always says that’s all I remember about the honeymoon.”
By Gates’ estimation, it took him nine years of minor league coaching to finally make $50,000 in a single year — which was still shy of the tech salary he turned down when he graduated from Boise State. “My choices were, I could be an intern assistant coach with a CBA team, and basically, I think it paid $1,000 a month,” Gates said, “or take a full-time job at Micron Technology at $55,000 coming out of college. I remember calling my dad and telling him I was going to do the basketball thing and he hung up on me.”
NBA head coaching jobs are the holy grail of the profession, with the highest-paid leading men with president titles making between $7 million (Stan Van Gundy) and $10 million (Doc Rivers) annually. (Gregg Popovich, who agreed to an extension with the Spurs this summer, lives in that neighborhood, too.) Last season, the average head coaching salary in the NBA was $3.05 million, according to industry data. But when Gates left his $100,000-a-year job as head coach of the Idaho Stampede to join the Kings, the reward for finally making it to the NBA was a 50 percent pay cut. This with a D-League championship and multiple coach-of-the-year awards on his resume.
24 Apr 11