If the Kings were still interested in adding a "big man's" coach to Reggie Theus' staff - and it appears that they no longer are - they missed their chance at Jeff Ruland, the former NBA center who subsequently enjoyed a long, successful run as head coach at Iona College. Ruland, who spent last season coaching Albquerque in the NBA Developmental League, was hired by the 76ers a few days ago to replace Henry Bibby.
In the NBA, he was drafted by Golden State in 1980, but spent most of his career with the Washington Bullets. At 6-foot-10 and 240 pounds, he was an excellent shooter and rugged, physical rebounder. But I was always most appreciative of his slick passing. His career ended prematurely because of foot and knee injuries. Those were the days, you might recall, before arthroscopic surgery prolonged careers.
Ruland, 49, initiated contact with the Kings several months ago, but when I spoke with him Wednesday, said he interviewed with the 76ers about a week after hiring agent Warren LeGarie. He credits LeGarie - who represents coaches, players and is particularly connected in the overseas market - with his current opportunity. Plus, it doesn't hurt that he played for the 76ers briefly before retiring in 1993, spent the 1993-94 as one of Freddie Carter's assistants, and remained highly regarded within the organization. Now he gets to work with Elton Brand. Not too shabby.
Later in the day, I called Theus and asked what happened to all the talk about adding a frontcourt specialist to work with Spencer Hawes and rookie Jason Thompson, and from what he said, it sounds like the idea has been tabled. "Whatever they (Geoff Petrie and the Maloofs) want to do is fine with me," said Theus. "I just haven't heard anything about that for a while. But I think they saw Spencer getting better late in the season, so maybe that had something to do with where we're at."
On the hunt
Before training camp opens at the end of September, Theus plans to go dove hunting in New Mexico with his 14-year-old son, Reggie. Think bows and arrows, not shotguns. We keep hearing that Reggie is quite the archer. But he's hoping that his namesake - who already stands 6-foot-4 - is more inclined to develops his basketball skills. "His feet are huge," said Theus, laughing. "I want him to keep playing."
Bobby, Bobby, Bobby ...
Theus is quickly gaining a sense of Bobby Jackson's popularity within the community. Virtually everywhere he goes, people approach and express their excitement about the veteran guard's return. "Bobby Jackson, Bobby Jackson, Bobby Jackson," Theus said. "I say, 'guys, that was eight years ago. He can still play. But that was a long time ago.' The good thing is, I've talked to Bobby, and explained to him how important his presence is going to be in the locker room. It's going to be enormous. It's important to mentor the young guys the right way, and a lot of our success is going to depend on how quickly the young guys develop."