Former Nuggets assistant coach John Welch has left the Nuggets and will be focusing on the offensive side of the ball for Jason Kidd and the Brooklyn Nets. Kidd has surrounded himself with experienced coaches and Welch is one of the best in the business.
"We're talking this week and I'm trying to share the vision I have, and that's one of the formulas that we might have - break it down where [Frank] could do defense and John does the offense and I'll oversee and pipe in on both."
Welch's hiring hasn't been announced officially, but he's been working with players both at PNY Center and in Orlando since last week. After Karl was let do go and GM Masai Ujiri headed to Toronto, Welch decided to move on as well.
I got a chance to talk hoops with Welch on just a few occasions - in my dealings he was very willing to discuss player development and how his players were looking both pro and con. He didn't much like to talk about himself or give out much credit as Benjamin Hochman captured beautifully in his piece on Welch from October.
"It's dark, dark, dark, but I'm going to work," said second-year Nuggets guard Julyan Stone, who after this 7 a.m. private session will practice with the team at 11 - and then again at 7 p.m. "If you don't love being in the gym, then you have a problem, and I think John Welch loves being in the gym more than anybody on the team."
In the practice gym one afternoon, most of the players had cleared about, but Welch and Danilo Gallinari remained on the far end of the court and began playing a spirited game of one-on-one. The intensity picked up and soon the guys could be heard barking foul calls, what they were going to do, and who could stop who or who could score on who.
It was a friendly game and an awesome game to watch. Here is Welch, at 49 years-old, battling it out with 24 year-old Gallo and he's more than holding his own as a defensive stopper. I don't know who won or if there was even a winner - it seemed that Welch was just playing defense - but the two must have played for a good 30 minutes. That was Welch.
All the Nuggets assistants stayed late after practice. Welch, Melvin Hunt, Chad Iske, Vance Walberg, Patrick Mutombo, and Ryan Bowen. They are all hoops junkies, that's why they have the jobs they do. It'll be tough for Brian Shaw to replace Welch and we should soon find out who will be on his staff.
But I'm happy the Nets made a good hire and Kidd will benefit from having a guy that has spent time with guys from Jerry Tarkanian to George Karl on his staff in Brooklyn.
Welch's bio with the Nuggets:
Welch joined the Nuggets after two seasons as an assistant coach/workout coach for the Memphis Grizzlies. Prior to his arrival in Memphis, he spent seven seasons as an assistant coach at Fresno State, serving under head coach Jerry Tarkanian, one of the winningest coaches in NCAA history.
Welch joined Fresno State in 1995 and helped the Bulldogs to two consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, six consecutive 20-win seasons and seven straight postseason appearances. In 2000-01, he helped the Bulldogs to a 26-7 record, the second-most wins in school history; a school-record tying 13-game winning streak; and a Top 25 ranking during the second half of the season.
Welch, began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for three years including the 1987 season when the UNLV Rebels advanced to the NCAA Final Four. When the Rebels season ended, Welch also served as a player and coach in the New Zealand Professional Basketball League from 1986-89. Welch returned to the collegiate ranks as an assistant coach at Long Beach State where he helped Head Coach Seth Greenburg guide the 49ers to a two-year record of 37-20 and a berth in the 1995 NCAA Tournament.
As a player, Welch spent three seasons at the University of Nevada, Reno and transferred to UNLV for his senior year. Welch played under Tarkanian for one year when the Rebels compiled a 33-5 record and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
Welch was born on Feb. 17, 1963 in Portland, Maine. He attended Ranch High School in Las Vegas where he was an All-State selection. He and his wife, Jean, have a daughter, Haley, and a son, Riley.