Caught in the Web Indiana Pacers blog by Conrad Brunner

Shaw's hiring generates rare buzz

Indianapolis (July 13, 2011) -- Rarely does the hiring of an assistant coach generate buzz.

But when the assistant coach is of the caliber of Brian Shaw, there's reason for excitement.

Especially if you're the head coach.

"We hit a home run," said Frank Vogel. "That's what we do: we shoot for the moon and we go get it. To bring a guy like Brian Shaw to our staff, somebody that's got three championships as a player and who worked under Phil Jackson, arguably the greatest coach in NBA history, and with two championships as an assistant coach, it's a home run on so many levels. We're just thrilled about it."

Shaw was available only because in the aftermath of Jackson's retirement, Lakers management opted not to promote from within and instead hired Mike Brown, the former Pacers assistant who was highly successful in his head coaching stint with the Cavaliers.

Instead of the heir apparent, Shaw was unemployed. But that didn't mean he lacked for options. This is, after all, a guy with five NBA championship rings (three as a player, two as an assistant coach) who reached the playoffs 11 times in 14 seasons during his playing days. It's safe to say Shaw is one of the most respected leaders in the game.

"It just goes to show that in this wacky business that we're in you never know what's going to happen," Shaw said. "Nothing was ever promised to me (in L.A.), nor did I expect anything. I knew especially for that team and in that city, everybody who had any love for coaching basketball would come out and gun for that head coaching position in Los Angeles.

"I just take away from it I had a great opportunity to learn from probably the best coach in all of professional sports in Phil Jackson and I just tried to soak up as much as I possibly could during the time I was there with him. They made they choice they made. I'm happy with the choice I made here."

The Pacers' situation appealed to Shaw on many levels. Start with his friendship with Larry Bird dating back to their three seasons as teammates in Boston in the early 1990s. Mix in the opportunity to serve as Associate Head Coach, a clear designation as the right-hand man.

And then there is the team itself, a talented group that showed such promise after Vogel took over last season and is trying to get precisely where Shaw has been the past 12 years -- the top of the mountain.

"That's the challenge and that's the part that's very exciting for me because as I've gone through and done head coaching interviews and what-have-you, that's kind of been one of the knocks -- that I've been under Phil Jackson and his system and that's the only thing that I know," Shaw said. "… For me, that's the challenge, to come and be part of a different system, different organization, a part of a team that's building as opposed to a team that everybody on the outside feels like is already a championship-caliber team like the Lakers had.

"This is a situation that I have not really been in as a coach so I'm excited about that and looking forward to changing that perception."

Shaw will be the lead assistant on Vogel's streamlined staff, joining returnee Dan Burke. Jim Boylen, the former University of Utah head coach and long-time Rockets assistant, is expected to round out the staff once final contract details are ironed out.

It is a remarkably strong and experienced staff, a vital support structure for Vogel, with Shaw a valuable resource in the next seat on the bench.

"I didn't know if I could get him, quite frankly," Vogel said. "This is a guy that has been in the final running for high-level head coaching positions in this league and for whatever circumstances they didn't work out. I didn't know if I could get a guy of that caliber.

"It became a little bit of a recruitment, there was a lot of interest in him around the league and the fact he chose to be here to work for me, to work for Larry Bird, to be a part of this team, is just indicative of what we're building here. This is a special environment. There's a tremendous positive vibe to what we're doing and people want to be here and that's exciting."

Follow Conrad Brunner on Twitter