The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly bringing back an ex-player to help get their "farm system" ready to compete at the NBA level.
Ex-Laker Mark Madsen, who spent three years with Los Angeles after being drafted by the team in 2000, reportedly has a deal in place to become the head coach of the Los Angeles D-Fenders—L.A.'s NBA Development League affiliate.
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski broke the story first. He also broke the news earlier on Saturday that the D-Fenders and Madsen were in "serious talks" to finalize a deal for the 37-year-old former NBA player:
Stanford assistant Mark Madsen is in serious talks to become head coach of the Los Angeles Defenders of D-League, sources tell Y! Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 11, 2013
Madsen finished his NBA career in 2009 with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He only held career averages of 2.2 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, but he won two NBA championships with the Lakers and ended his professional career with 453 career games played.
Last year, he was an assistant coach with Stanford University, and before that he was an assistant for the Utah Flash—another NBA D-League team.
Nicknamed "Mad Dog" by players and fans in Los Angeles, Madsen was more noticeable for his dance moves during the Lakers' championship parades than he was for his play on the court. Despite that, his eight-year NBA career and subsequent coaching stops should provide the D-Fenders with some fresh blood after they went 21-29 last season.
The move follows a trend set by the Texas Legends (an affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks), who hired ex-player Eduardo Najera as their head coach prior to the 2012-13 season. Texas went 21-29 in Najera's first season as head coach.
While the D-League hasn't quite expanded to the point of popularity or intrigue yet, it is a popular proving ground for both players and coaches. NBA teams dip into the pool for call-ups when their seasons are almost over or when the injury bug hits, and coaches have also started to make the jump from the D-League to the NBA.
Madsen wasn't the most impressive NBA pro, but he'll have a chance with the D-Fenders to prove that he's an up-and-coming head coach. Surely, his goal will be to join a list of former small-time players—like Rick Carlisle, Scott Brooks and Jacque Vaughn—who became big-time coaches.