Charlotte Hornets

New Greensboro Swarm coach says synergy will be everything

Charlotte Hornets President Fred Whitfield congratulates Noel Gillespie as the first coach of their NBA Development League team, the Greensboro Swarm, during Wednesday’s news conference in Greensboro.
Charlotte Hornets President Fred Whitfield congratulates Noel Gillespie as the first coach of their NBA Development League team, the Greensboro Swarm, during Wednesday’s news conference in Greensboro. Greensboro News & Record

Noel Gillespie has a lot to accomplish in a short amount of time as the first coach of the Greensboro Swarm.

But no other agenda comes close to the importance of establishing synergy with the Charlotte Hornets coaching staff.

For the Hornets’ new Development League affiliate to succeed, it’s essential Gillespie absorbs everything he can about the system coach Steve Clifford runs.

“I’m going to be an extension of this coaching staff,” said Gillespie, a former assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns. “In the drills and everything outside looking in. I’ve obviously scouted Steve Clifford’s teams before. Now I need to absorb that offensive and defensive philosophy.”

Gillespie said it should be helpful that his last boss, Nuggets coach Mike Malone, runs a system that is very similar to Clifford’s.

“Much the same offensive and defensive terminology,” Gillespie said. “You can see the influences of (Clifford mentors) Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy.”

Gillespie was introduced as Swarm coach at a news conference in Greensboro on Wednesday, then did a conference call with Charlotte-area media.

He said he enjoyed his time as an NBA assistant coach, but was looking for a different challenge. The idea of a start-up appealed to him.

“I loved coaching in the NBA – it was a big career goal,” said Gillespie, who got his start in the NBA breaking down video for the Indiana Pacers. “But the idea of being a head coach, in support of the Hornets’ front office, seemed like a great opportunity.

“I think five or 10 years from now, I’d regret it if I passed this up.”

The Hornets originally offered the Swarm job to former NBA center Sean Rooks, who died in June of a heart attack. That restarted the search process and kept Hornets general manager Rich Cho from meeting his original goal of hiring a coach in time for him to participate in Orlando summer league.

Gillespie said he interviewed for the Swarm job in Orlando, so he got to watch some of the Hornets’ summer league games and to meet with Clifford and associate head coach Patrick Ewing.

Gillespie plans to spend August and September in Charlotte to develop relationships with the Hornets’ coaches and players.

“I need to make sure the terminology, the vernacular, are the same” for the Hornets and the Swarm, Gillespie said. “If the Hornets sign a shooting guard (off the Swarm’s roster) he’ll come in knowing the system.”

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell

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