As first reported on Denver Stiffs, word came out today that former Rocket / King / Raptor front-court maven Chuck Hayes has joined the Nuggets in a non-player capacity.
League source tells Denver Stiffs that the Nuggets have hired former player Chuck Hayes as an entry level staff assistant.— Denver Stiffs (@denverstiffs) September 8, 2016
Hayes will help both the front office and coaching staff.— Denver Stiffs (@denverstiffs) September 8, 2016
At least one radio station (1250 AM Sports out of Lexington, KY) has added clarification that he will assist with player development (alongside new assistant coach Jordi Fernandez) but will not travel with the team, instead pursuing other duties with the front office while the Nuggets are on the road.
Hayes spent the majority of his 11-year career as a bench player, but was always a heady player. He had to be, as he played power forward and center as a 6’6 bowling ball. He was also known as a player who could defend his position despite giving away 6 inches in height to many opponents. The Nuggets hope he can pass on those skills to their two young centers, Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic, as well as their new power forward Juancho Hernangomez. If Kenneth Faried could pick up some pointers that would be even better.
Defense was the area that drove coach Michael Malone crazy last year, and Hayes (who played as recently as last season) still knows the schemes and the players around the league. He is also familiar with new Nuggets offensive lead assistant Chris Finch, as Finch ran the offense for Houston where Hayes played out the last year of his career.
Hopefully Hayes’s abilities in lateral quickness and defending switches and the pick-and-roll will rub off on Denver’s big men this year. And whatever happens with Hayes as a tutor and front office understudy, it’s another interesting under-the-radar pickup for Denver this offseason.