NETS Q&A - Milton Lee on Armor Coach Bob MacKinnon Jr.
September 14, 2011
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—Milton Lee, recently named the NETS' General Manager of Minor League Operations, announced Wednesday that Bob MacKinnon Jr. had been named head coach of the Springfield Armor, the NETS' affiliate franchise in the NBA Development League. MacKinnon joins the Nets' organizaion after a year with the D-League's Idaho Stampede; he won the D-League Championship coaching the Colorado 14ers in 2008-09.
With the hire a first for the NETS' franchise, Lee took the time to speak with NJNets.com about the hiring process, why they decided MacKinnon was their man and how exactly the position fits into the organization's larger goals.
NJNets.com: Milton, thanks for speaking with us. First off – why Bob?
Milton Lee: When Billy (King, Nets GM), Avery (Johnson, Nets coach), Bobby (Marks, Nets assistant GM) and myself talked about it, we just had a great comfort level with Bob. He’s got many, many years of experience as a college assistant, and we felt that was great background for dealing with the younger players we’re going to have in Springfield; he can understand and probably relate better to those type of players.
He’s also had great success in the D-League: he won a championship his first year, he had a tremendous number of call-ups – he had seven call-ups in two years, he was a head coach, which was a very high number; it might be the highest during that two-year stint. And then there was the intangible of his personality, and how he related to all of us, and how prepared he was for his interview. And when we did all the background checks, everything came back with a thumbs up.
So it was the full picture, but a lot of it had to do with his history of developing players, success at the D-League level, and his enthusiasm and preparedness for the interview.
NJNets.com: Bob's father, Bob MacKinnon Sr., served as general manager and coach of the Nets during the 1980s. Did that come up during the interview process?
Milton Lee: Bob had mentioned it in our first interview and it was just something we could smile about. It certainly wasn’t a determining factor. It’s nice that we have some history with his family and I’m sure his father is very excited that he’s rejoined the organization.
NJNets.com: I'm sure he is, ha. How did that process play out before deciding on Bob?
Milton Lee: We had a tremendous amount of applicants. We narrowed that down to a handful that we actually interviewed. We had a rough idea of the type of person we wanted to fill the position, so from that we narrowed down the list of candidates to the people that we wanted to interview.
Then Bob went through three rounds of interviews, and after the final round, it was funny – Bobby, Billy and myself looked at each other and said, ‘This is our guy.’ It was ironic, because he was one of the first people we interviewed. We wanted to respect the process and learn about the other candidates out there. But as we learned about more and more people, Bob became a clearer choice for us.
NJNets.com: Stylistically, how do you envision Bob fitting in with the staff?
Milton Lee: Well, Bob has worked for five other head coaches. He’s very adaptable and flexible, and he made that clear during the interview process. And that’s something that we felt was important, because we want that coach to be running what Avery is running here, using the same terminology and having the same sets.
But at the same time, we don’t want Bob to be a robot – we want him to coach. The Nets, as an organization, might learn some things from him. we are giving him creative rights, but we have no doubt that, as far as a framework, he’ll be able to implement what Avery is doing here down in New Jersey.
NJNets.com: As a Nets employee, how will Bob's role extend to the NBA team?
Milton Lee: Well, Bob will be here, with the Nets coaching staff, in training camp. And once Bob’s season ends in Springfield, he will rejoin the Nets’ coaching staff. He will help the coaching staff during the draft evaluation process and he will be on staff for the Nets' Summer League team next summer. So it’s a full immersion with the Nets' coaching staff once the Springfield season is done.
NJNets.com: What kind of support staff will he have?
Milton Lee: Bob will be hiring an assistant coach (also under contract with the Nets). We want the coaching staff to be an extension of the Nets' coaching staff.
NJNets.com: As the Armor's GM, how do you forsee your relationship developing as you approach the upcoming D-League Draft and the season beyond that?
Milton Lee: Bob and I have been in regular communication, and I anticipate daily communication with him in the weeks leading to the draft. I want his input. He has a history in the league, he’s got a lot of experience and a really strong network in the college game. So there are probably guys he can find information about that I can’t. I have a comfort level with Bob. We’ll be able to work together and get the best product out on the court.