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Pacers Ecstatic for Shaw, Now In Need of New Assistant

Members of the Pacers felt like they were going through the job interview process with Brian Shaw. They were campaigning for him, even though it meant the loss of their top assistant because they wanted one of the great guys in the business to finally get what he deserved. Pacers head coach Frank Vogel was singing his praises to teams, informing them of the type of man and coach they would get with Shaw. General Manager Kevin Pritchard was involved as well, doing whatever he could and aiding in the process. And those that couldn’t help — they just hoped that one team was smart enough to hire Shaw.

Late Monday, all the hard work and belief in Shaw paid off as he agreed to become the 20th head coach of the Denver Nuggets. Dream achieved.

“Everybody is happy for him,” Vogel said Tuesday afternoon. “Brian Shaw was beloved in this locker room and in this whole organization. There’s nobody here that’s anything but completely ecstatic for him.”

Added Pritchard: “I’m so excited for him. The guy has paid his dues, he’s won championships, and he’s been a huge part of what we’re about. We’re so happy for him and he’s going to do a terrific job.”

“That’s awesome news,” Pacers forward Jeff Pendergraph wrote to Pacers.com in a text. “Sad to see him go, love him on our team but man he deserves to be a head coach.”

Shaw, 47, said he’s been through nearly a dozen interviews, even receiving a few offers, but he wanted the right situation. This summer, he also interviewed with Brooklyn and Los Angeles (Clippers) but the Nets decided to hire the recently retired Jason Kidd and the Clippers traded for Doc Rivers.

“I’m a young coach with an old soul.” Shaw said Tuesday afternoon at his introductory news conference. ”I’m proud to say I’m from the Phil Jackson tree, and I’m proud to say I’m from the Frank Vogel tree.”

After playing 14 years in the NBA, Shaw put on a suit and moved up the bench as an assistant for the next eight years, including the past two as Indiana’s associate head coach. When Larry Bird removed Vogel’s interim tag in 2011, he wanted to ensure that Vogel had a great staff to lean on in his young, but budding career. So there was Shaw, longtime Pacers assistant Dan Burke and a former head coach in Jim Boylen.

During the postseason, Burke and Boylen took their ideas, notes and scouting report to Shaw before sitting down with Vogel. That’s just one of the many instances of Shaw showing his readiness to direct a team.

In an NBA.com survey with all 30 GMs before last season, Shaw was voted as the league’s top assistant coach.

Shaw’s biggest asset was his ability to connect with players. He was instrumental in the growth of the young players, specifically Lance Stephenson and Paul George. Shaw is a family guy, so it’s no surprise that his son, B.J., and daughter, Bianca, were ball kids at home games. That’s representative of the type of atmosphere that the Pacers welcome.

With Denver, Shaw’s joining a winning franchise with a talented nucleus and a new GM. His family enjoyed their short stay in Indianapolis, but now they’ll be headed back West where Shaw has spent much of his life.

“His teams are going to be great,” Vogel said of Shaw. “They’re going to be well coach, and they’re going to have an attitude and a swagger and play with a great deal of confidence. … Certainly glad that I only have to see him twice a year.

“I don’t think people understand how good he is. They’re going to find that out over the next couple of years.”

What’s Next for the Pacers?

Vogel is now faced with the challenge of filling Shaw’s spot, which which won’t be easy.

“We’re going to look at a lot of different types of assistant coaches but certainly I think it’s important to have a former player or two on your bench to share some of the experiences that our guys are going through.”

Hiring a former player will likely happen. Vogel wants a been-there-done-that type of guy that can connect with the players. Shaw’s methodology with individuals and ideas to push players were invaluable. And for Vogel, Shaw was an exceptional resource.

Knowing this day would eventually come, Vogel may have already had a working list. The NBA draft is two days away, followed by free agency four days later. When he can find some time, Vogel will try to hire his new assistant as soon as possible while ensuring that he does his due-diligence.

About The Author

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Scott Agness is in his second season as a multimedia contributor for Pacers.com. He delivers articles, blog posts, interviews, and videos. He is a graduate of Indiana University where he was part of broadcasts on the IU Radio Network, Big Ten Network, IUHoosiers.com and WIUX. He is the founder and editor of VigilantSports.com.

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