Eric Musselman compiled an impressive 72-28 record during his two seasons as a head coach in the NBA D-League. Musselman, now the Associate Head Coach at Arizona State University, continues to keep in touch with his former players from the NBADL, as many of his past players are currently in NBA training camps.
In fact, two former players from the Los Angeles D-Fenders are nearly a stone’s throw away from Musselman, as they’re currently in training camp with the Phoenix Suns. Ish Smith and Gerald Green are in camp with the Suns, and both players spent time with Musselman in the NBA D-League.
Smith, a member of the Milwaukee Bucks summer league squad, averaged 7.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in Las Vegas. The shifty guard landed with the Phoenix Suns this offseason, as part of a deal that sent Caron Butler to Milwaukee. It’s unclear where Smith will ultimately land on the Suns’ depth chart, but he recently caught up with Musselman prior to training camp.
Musselman spoke with D-LeagueDigest.com, and explained the run in with his former player.”Prior to the Suns’ camp Ish Smith worked out at ASU’s facility. Ish came to the ASU football game last Saturday vs USC, and we got a chance to catch up.”
Green is also calling Phoenix home now after he was traded from Indiana, and still remains close to Musselman. Green earned a Call-Up as a member of Musselman’s D-Fenders squad that nearly won the NBADL championship, and has since gone on to earn a roster spot with a few different NBA teams. Musselman issued nothing but praise regarding the athletic swingman, “Gerald is one of my all-time favorites. He really embraced coaching, and was all in as far as coming to the D-League for all the right reasons.” Musselman said.
Another former NBADL player of Musselman’s, Marcus Landry, is in training camp with the Los Angeles Lakers. Landry was a member of Musselman’s extremely talented Reno Bighorns team which consisted of Jeremy Lin, Danny Green, Steve Novak, and Donald Sloan. Landry has a shot at cracking the roster for head coach Mike D’Antoni in L.A.
Musselman spoke about the many different attributes which he thinks Landry possesses, ”Marcus has such great versatility. He could play the 3, or 4 in the D-League, and even played the 5. He is a rare player that is a two-way pick-and-roll player, meaning he can handle the ball in the pick-and-roll, and also be a screen setter. Marcus is a great family man, and a real pro. I felt in Reno he was a D-League MVP candidate, and felt like our staff and organization failed in not having him called up.”
“He is an NBA player who can contribute if given the opportunity. The Lakers should be a great system for Marcus, as he can really stretch the defense with his three point range, he is also an underrated rebounder for his position.” Musselman added.
The NBA D-League fraternity runs deep, and the bond that coaches create with their players is truly something special. Even though Musselman is focused on the college game now, he hasn’t fallen out of touch with his former players from the NBADL.