Trail Blazers add 3 to coaching staff

Trail Blazers add 3 to coaching staff

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Trail Blazers have three new coaching-staff members as of Monday.

Head Coach Nate McMillan has finalized his coaching staff for the 2010-11 season, and has hired Bernie Bickerstaff, Bob Ociepka and Buck Williams.

Bickerstaff, Ociepka and Williams join assistant coaches Bill Bayno and Kaleb Canales to complete McMillan’s staff.

“After many interviews, I’m excited to bring a new balance and chemistry to the team,” Head Coach McMillan said in a prepared statement Monday. “The Bs – Bernie, Bob and Buck – will be a great addition to the Trail Blazers family and to our community."

Bickerstaff, 66, spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls as part of an NBA career that began in 1973 as an assistant coach at Washington and led to head coaching positions with Seattle (1985-90), Denver (1995-96), Washington (1997-99) and Charlotte (2004-07).

Bickerstaff helped guide Washington to the 1978 NBA Championship as an assistant coach. Ranked 36th on the NBA’s all-time wins list (415), he was head coach of the SuperSonics during McMillan’s first four seasons in Seattle and was named the 1987 NBA Coach of the Year with the club.

Bickerstaff served as general manager of the Denver Nuggets (1990-97) and Charlotte Bobcats (2004-07), and as executive vice president of basketball operations for the Bobcats (2007-08).

Chicago-native Ociepka, 61, also joins the Trail Blazers from the Bulls, where the Trail Blazers' announced he was an assistant coach for the past two seasons. With 20 years of NBA experience, Ociepka (pronounced o-SEEP-ka) spent time as an assistant coach with Minnesota (2006-08), Milwaukee (2003-06), Detroit (1998-99, 2001-03), Cleveland (1999-2001), Philadelphia (1996-97), L.A. Clippers (1993-96) and Indiana (1989-93). He also served as a scout with Detroit and Orlando.

Williams, already known to many Trail Blazers fans, was the team’s power forward from 1989-96 and helped lead Portland to the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992 as Western Conference Champions. Williams, 50, is the team’s all-time leader in field goal percentage (55.0 percent) and ranks fourth in rebounds (4,861), seventh in games played (557) and ninth in minutes played (17,130).

"A hard-nosed, physical player, Williams’ streak of 196 consecutive games played is the third longest in franchise history," Monday's release reports. "One of nine players in NBA history to amass 16,000 points and 13,000 rebounds, the three-time All-Star and 1982 NBA Rookie of the Year also played for New Jersey and New York during his 17-year NBA career."

In addition to Williams' coaching responsibilities, he also will serve as a community ambassador for the Trail Blazers. He joins the likes of fellow ambassadors Harry Glickman, Dale Schlueter, Jerome Kersey, Terry Porter, Chris Dudley and Brian Grant.

"I’ve added a lot of experience to my bench," Coach McMillan said, "and I feel they will help the team continue to grow and take the next step.”