After months of speculation and at least one interview for a head coaching job, Kelvin Sampson has officially moved on from the Milwaukee Bucks.
Sampson has signed on to become the associate head coach on Kevin McHale’s Houston Rockets staff, a step up from his position in Milwaukee behind recently retained Jim Boylan on Scott Skiles’s staff. According to Gery Woelful, Sampson impressed the Rockets brass when interviewing for the top job there and reports say he will have an out clause if another head coaching job becomes available.
Having spent the majority of his carer in college, Sampson seemed to naturally gravitate to younger Bucks over his two season’s in Milwaukee. He earned much praise from Milwaukee’s younger players like Brandon Jennings and Larry Sanders. Sampson could often be found hours before games on the court feeding Jennings passes as he worked his way around the perimeter.
It remains to be seen how much his departure will impact the Bucks. It probably depends a lot on who the Bucks bring in to replace him. Milwaukee’s offensive struggles of last season have been well documented, so while many teams are bringing in defensive specialists (Woelful reported Phoenix was looking to bring in Boylan to fill that position before he re-upped with the Bucks), perhaps the Bucks will look to bring in a coach with a history of offensive success and creativity. Or maybe Milwaukee will look to bring in an assistant with a strong history of developing younger players.
No matter what they do, Milwaukee will probably suffer a net loss. Sampson was an incredibly hard worker and appeared to set a great example as a coach. Not that it required much to do so, but he’s more than restored his reputation in his couple of years in Milwaukee after a nasty end to his college career.
I met with Coach Sampson nearly a year ago at the Las Vegas summer league and talked with him about working with young players. I was going to try and pick out a quote or two for this story, but all of them were so good and seemed so honest that I’ll just toss the link in here and let you revisit. If there’s anyone who gets working with younger players, it’s Sampson.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.