With Bill Bayno, Kaleb Canales, and Greg Foster already named as Nate Bjorkgren’s assistants in a formal release last month, the Pacers announced six new additions to the coaching staff today, who will most likely be sitting second row and/or putting in work behind the scenes.
Calbert Cheaney — Assistant Coach/Player Development
Tyler Marsh — Assistant Coach/Player Development
Dylan DeBusk — Video Coordinator
Maurice Baker — Video/Player Development Assistant
Earl Barron — Video/Player Development Assistant
Moses Ehambe — Video/Player Development Assistan
With the exception of former IU standout Calbert Cheaney, this latest list of names is heavy on direct ties to Bjorkgren’s G League roots. Marsh comes to the Pacers having made stops assisting Bjorkgren with both the Iowa Energy (2013-14) and Bakersfield Jam (2014-15) before joining him on Nick Nurse’s staff in Toronto last season as a player development coach and video coordinator. Marsh also has organizational ties to the Pacers as a former Mad Ants assistant (2016-17).
DeBusk, meanwhile, graduated from Cactus Shadows High School in Arizona, where Bjorkgren coached from 2004-06. He also worked under Indiana’s new bench boss as a player development coach and video coordinator with the Bakersfield Jam in 2014-15.
But wait, the connections don’t stop there. Bjorkgren coached Baker with the Dakota Wizards (2011-12) as well as Ehambe with the Iowa Energy (2013-14). Indiana’s first-time head coach also got promoted from Bakersfield (2014-15) to Phoenix (2015) over the same span of years that Barron played for both clubs.
In other G League news, NBA teams are set to be deciding soon (as in, before 5PM today) if they’ll be the paying the $500,000 entry fee to have their affiliate go to the bubble in Atlanta. Per Adam Johnson, formerly of two-ways and 10 days, the G League bubble season start date is still to be determined but is expected to begin by late January with a minimum of 12 games, not including a potential postseason.
If the Pacers don’t elect to participate in the bubble, Cassius Stanley’s development as someone who committed twice as many as turnovers as assists last season (1.9 turnovers to one assist per game) might be hard to come by amid a condensed season which could prove short on practice time. On the other hand, given the potential for players to be out or quarantined for extended periods as a result of the risk for contracting COVID-19, there’s also incentive to keep two-way players close to NBA teams in case of emergency.
Either way, Steve Gansey isn’t returning as head coach of the Mad Ants, so the first order of business for Indiana’s minor league affiliate is to do as Nate Bjorkgren has done and finalize a coaching staff — regardless of if the team chooses to play in Atlanta.