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Blazers Hire Assistant Coach Nate Tibbetts

The Portland Trail Blazers announced Tuesday the hiring of assistant coach Nate Tibbetts.

Mike Acker,

The Portland Trail Blazers announced Tuesday the hiring of assistant coach Nate Tibbetts, who held the same position with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the last two seasons. Jason Quick of The Oregonian first reported the addition on Twitter.

Here's the team's press release.

The Portland Trail Blazers have hired Nate Tibbetts as an assistant coach, it was announced today by General Manager Neil Olshey.

Tibbetts, 35, joins Head Coach Terry Stotts' staff from the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he served as an assistant coach for the past two seasons.

"Nate is an exceptional addition to our staff and I am very excited to welcome him to the Trail Blazers," said Stotts. "He possesses a strong work ethic and a passion for coaching. He has been instrumental in developing young players in the D-League and in the NBA. Additionally, his successful head coaching experience in the D-League provides a unique ability, which will complement our current staff.

"Along with the rest of the staff, he will also assist in game plan preparation and execution."

Prior to joining the Cavaliers, Tibbetts spent two seasons as head coach of the NBA Development League's Tulsa 66ers. He guided the Oklahoma City Thunder's D-League affiliate to a 64-41 (.610) record and two trips to the playoffs during his tenure there.

Tibbetts was selected to be the United States head coach in the 2011 Pan American Games, where he led the group of D-League players to a bronze medal, USA's first medal since 1999.

Tibbetts was a member of the D-League's Sioux Falls Skyforce coaching staff for four seasons and was promoted to head coach after his first two campaigns. The former University of South Dakota standout was an assistant coach at the University of Sioux Falls from 2001-05.

Here's Tibbetts' biography.

Nate Tibbetts was named an assistant coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers in December 2011. He joins the Cavaliers from the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League, where he served as head coach for two seasons and led the 66ers to the NBA D-League playoffs in each season, compiling a 64-41 (.610) record during his tenure.


Tibbetts joined the 66ers in 2009 after spending four seasons with the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA Development League. After two seasons as an assistant with the Skyforce, Tibbetts was promoted to head coach prior the 2007-08 season. In two seasons at the helm, Tibbetts guided Sioux Falls to a 53-47 (.530) mark including a playoff berth during the 2007-08 season.

Before joining the Skyforce in 2005, Tibbetts was an assistant men's basketball coach at the University of Sioux Falls for four years (2001-05). In his four seasons at USF, the Cougars posted a record of 92-44 (.676), including two trips to the NAIA Division II National Tournament. The 2003-04 team posted a school record 26 wins before falling to Bellevue University (Neb.) 72-60 in the Final Four of the NAIA Division II Tournament.

Tibbetts enjoyed a successful collegiate career at the University of South Dakota. He ranks second all-time in the USD record books in career assists (678) and steals (215). He was named to the All-North Central Conference (NCC) team in 2000-01 and Honorable Mention All-NCC in 1999-00.

Update: Tibbetts offers some thoughts to Quick in this piece.

He became close with Stotts while he was a head coach of the Sioux Falls Skyforce for two seasons, including the 2007-2008 season when Stotts was a consultant for Development League coaches.

"I don't know if it was on purpose, but Terry spent a little extra time in Sioux Falls helping me out and we built a relationship,'' Tibbetts said. "I remember a lunch that we sat down and had - he probably doesn't remember it - but he was talking to me about teachable moments and using every opportunity to teach. And he talked to me a lot about how to be prepared - knowing what I wanted to get done in shootarounds, from the scouting aspect. He challenged me to be prepared to teach.''

The Cavaliers fired head coach Brian Scott at the end of the 2012-13 season and replaced him with former Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown.

Earlier this month, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reported that Tibbetts has been interviewed multiple times for the Charlotte Bobcats head coaching position.

Tibbetts, a former NBA Development League coach, interviewed with the Bobcats last season before the team hired Mike Dunlap.


The Bobcats place a priority on player development and Tibbetts got high marks in that regard from Cavs All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving. The day Irving was named rookie of the year last spring, he singled out Tibbetts for the constant attention and advice Tibbetts delivered.

"Coach Tibbetts would pull me over at the start of the season. I was always a shy guy, all I did was come to practice," said Irving, a former Duke star. "I was here three hours early, getting my shots up because I was so nervous to come in and I wanted to make everything perfect.

"Coach Tibbetts told me what to do and what not to do every single day."

Tibbetts fills a spot on Stotts' staff previously held by Kaleb Canales, who recently departed for the Dallas Mavericks.

The Blazers hired assistant coaches Jay Triano, David Vanterpool and Kim Hughes last August. Shortly thereafter, they hired assistant Dale Osbourne.

-- Ben Golliver | | Twitter