Wizards announce additions to coaching staff
Longabardi, Gaines, Christian, Oliver added; Brown promoted to Associate Head Coach
WASHINGTON, DC – The Washington Wizards announced today that the team has added Mike Longabardi, Corey Gaines, Jarell Christian, and Dean Oliver to Head Coach Scott Brooks’ staff.
“We are looking forward to having the experience, knowledge and diversity of skills and ideas that Mike, Corey, Jarell, and Dean will bring not only to the bench but to our organization as a whole,” said Brooks. “Mike will use his considerable experience and championship pedigree to head up our defensive efforts, Corey will bring a unique perspective as former NBA player and assistant coach with championship experience as a WNBA coach and executive, Dean will combine his unparalleled knowledge and application of analytics to our on-court work, and Jarell has formed strong relationships with our players through the great work he did last season with the Go-Go.”
The team also announced that assistant coach Tony Brown, who has served as the team’s top assistant for the last three seasons, has been promoted to associate head coach. In addition, Ryan Richman was promoted to head coach of the Capital City Go-Go.
“Coach Brooks and I worked closely to pinpoint what areas we needed to improve and identify the best candidates, both internally and externally, to make the appropriate changes,” said Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard. “We’re very confident that we have a strong staff in place that is in line with the vision we have for our rebuilding our culture and focusing on the overall development of our players.”
Longabardi brings a championship pedigree to the Wizards’ coaching staff, having won titles in two of his previous stops as an assistant coach – one with the 2007-08 Celtics and, most recently, with the 2015-16 Cleveland Cavaliers. He spent the past three seasons with the Cavaliers, serving as Larry Drew’s top assistant last season. Longabardi spent two-plus seasons as an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns after six seasons as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics under Doc Rivers, where he helped the team reach three Eastern Conference Finals and two NBA Finals. He began his NBA career as an assistant coach/video coordinator for the Houston Rockets under Jeff Van Gundy. Longabardi also spent seven years as an assistant coach for the men’s basketball teams at Pfeiffer University, Adelphi University, Lafayette College and Towson University.
Oliver, widely known as a pioneer in sports analytics, will bring his skillset to the coaching staff. Prior to coming to the Wizards, Oliver served as the Vice President of Data Science for TruMedia Networks. In this role, he worked with NBA, NFL and MLB teams to identify appropriate analytical projects from various data sources, including player tracking, ball tracking and traditional statistical sources. He most recently worked in the NBA as the Sacramento Kings’ director of analytics/player personnel in 2015. Oliver’s book, Basketball on Paper, was written at the same time as Moneyball and helped him to enter the NBA in 2004, working for the then-Seattle SuperSonics. He soon joined the Denver Nuggets as director of quantitative analysis and was part of several very successful teams during his tenure. Oliver went to ESPN during the NBA lockout of the 2011 season, where he headed up the construction of their sports analytics group, working on both basketball and football with talent, producers, technology, and executives at the company. He earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering at Caltech and was a member of the basketball team.
Gaines last coached in the NBA in 2017-18 as an assistant with the New York Knicks. Before joining the Knicks, he spent six years on the staff of the Phoenix Suns, including five years (2010-15) as the Suns’ player development coach before being promoted to assistant coach in 2015-16. Gaines also served eight seasons (2006-13) with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, helping lead the team to two WNBA Championships. After two years (2006-07) as an assistant coach (winning the championship in 2007), he compiled a 90-101 (.471) mark as Mercury head coach from 2008-13 and guided the Mercury to the 2009 league title with a 23-11 mark. The winningest head coach in Mercury franchise history, Gaines served in the dual role of Mercury head coach/general manager for two seasons (2012-13). His coaching career began in 2003 with the Long Beach Jam of the ABA, as both a player-coach and assistant coach under Paul Westhead. Gaines played five NBA seasons with four teams (Nets, 76ers, Nuggets, Knicks) after originally being drafted by Seattle in the third round (65th overall) of the 1988 NBA Draft.
Christian spent last season as the Go-Go’s first head coach, leading the team to a 25-25 record and a second place finish in the Southeast division. The Go-Go had three players earn NBA call-ups during the season, with Chasson Randle and Jordan McRae seeing time with the Wizards and Chris Chiozza earning an opportunity with the Houston Rockets. In addition, Wizards players Troy Brown Jr. and Thomas Bryant each spent time on assignment with the Go-Go during the season. McRae went on to earn First Team All-NBA G League honors after leading the league with 30.4 points per game (eventually having his two-way contract converted to an NBA contract) while Chiozza was voted to the NBA G League All-Rookie Team. Before joining Capital City, he spent four seasons as an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Blue of the NBA G League, serving as the interim head coach for the team at the end of the 2016 season when head coach Mark Daigneault joined the Thunder’s staff.
Assistant coaches Robert Pack and Mike Terpstra will return to the team, as will director of player development David Adkins and developmental assistant coaches Kristi Toliver, Kamran Sufi, Alex McLean, Landon Tatum, Ryan Lumpkin, Jimmy Bradshaw, Isaac Jenkins and Mike Williams.