FRISCO, TX, (June 8, 2016) – The Memphis Grizzlies have hired Legends head coach Nick Van Exel as an assistant coach, the team announced today.
“I am honored to be joining Coach [David] Fizdale and the Grizzlies’ staff and look forward to getting started,” said Van Exel. “I think we’re a good match. I like his energy. He’s been around some great coaches, obviously around some great players, and what he’s going to bring to the table will be tremendous, so hopefully I can just add something to it.”
Van Exel led the Legends to a 24-26 record in his first season as head coach after serving one season as associate head coach under Eduardo Najera.
“I want to thank Donnie Nelson for giving me the opportunity to be a head coach. That experience has helped prepare me for this next step and I’m very grateful for that. Also grateful to Del Harris for putting in the call for me and to Mike Finley, Spud Webb, Eduardo Najera, and all those guys that helped me get this position.”
“I learned a lot in these two years especially from the standpoint of having a voice, having the players respect you, not just from the standpoint of being a former player but as a coach. That’s very important and will be a big advantage going into the Memphis situation. That translates to any level—you have to show the players you’re there for them trying to help them get better.”
In Van Exel’s two seasons with the Legends he developed two GATORADE NBA Call-Ups and five Mavericks players on assignment.
“Nick stepped into the head coach role this past season and showed great poise and preparation” said Dallas Mavericks General Manager and Legends Owner Donnie Nelson. “His professionalism and storied resume command respect from the players and he will be a great asset to the Grizzlies’ organization. We are sad to see him go but wish him the best in this new endeavor.”
Prior to joining the Legends, Van Exel spent two seasons with the Atlanta Hawks in player development then joined the Milwaukee Bucks as an assistant under Larry Drew.
“I want to say a special thank you to the Legends fans for having me for two years. It’s been a blast. You guys have always supported the team through ups and downs and you made my time here very special. I live in Frisco and I’m not going anywhere so I’ll see you around. Thank you, you guys have my heart and I appreciate you!”