When the Portland Trail Blazers announced intentions to end their affiliation with the Idaho Stampede, the writing was on the wall for former coach Mike Peck. A new relationship with the Utah Jazz meant a new face behind the bench, and although the search lasted longer than the organization intended it to (and Dean Cooper kind of looks like the dad from the TV show Seventh Heaven), the Jazz think they've found the right guy for the job.
Cooper has over 15 years of NBA experience, the bulk of it with the Houston Rockets, where he spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach under Kevin McHale. He has worked with respected coaches Rudy Tomjanovich, Jeff Van Gundy, and Nate McMillan, but Cooper wants to bring his own style to Boise.
"I just talked to Rudy about that, just a couple days ago," said Cooper. "I can't be him. I can't be Kevin. I can't be coach McMillan. I need to be Dean Cooper, and I'm going to do my best to do that."
As part of the new hybrid affiliation with the Jazz, the Stampede will act as an extension of the NBA club. Cooper has been spending time in Utah with Jazz coaches and management, and intends to mirror their style and philosophies in Boise.
"In the D-League, guys have either been there, they've come back, they want to get back, or they haven't been there yet," explains Cooper. "It's like riding the bus in 'Bull Durham,' right? When Crash finally tells them he has been in the big leagues, and they say: 'You've been in the show?' And they all want to know about it."
"These guys are here because they want to get where I've been, and it's my obligation and my responsibility to help them do that."
The Stampede will hold local tryouts in late September. The D-League season begins in November.