Even if you don’t follow the D-League particularly closely, or at all, it’s still fun to know who the head coaches are, and which players truly shine in the league — especially since those players often wind up on an NBA roster, at least on a 10-day contract, if not more. Going back to that first thing, here’s the latest D-League coaching news:
The Los Angeles D-Fenders have named Conner Henry as head coach, it was announced today by team President/CEO Joey Buss and General Manager Nick Mazzella.
Henry returns to the D-Fenders after serving as an assistant coach for the team during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, before becoming the head coach of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants prior to the 2013-14 season. In his first year, Henry led the Mad Ants to a 34-16 regular season record, edging out the D-Fenders for the top seed in the NBA D-League Playoffs. Fort Wayne would then go 6-0 in the playoffs en route to an NBA D-League Championship. Henry was later named 2014 Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year by his D-League colleagues. Last season, the Mad Ants made a similar run, sweeping their first two playoff series before ultimately falling short in the D-League Finals to the Santa Cruz Warriors.
“We expect great things from Conner Henry,” said Buss. “We consider him to be the best coach in the league. His leadership is effective for winning and developing players, having earned a championship and development award in the last two seasons.”
“I’m looking forward to returning to Los Angeles and to the D-Fenders organization,” Henry said. “I would like to thank General Manager Nick Mazzella and the Buss family for having the faith to bring me home to pursue an NBA D-League Championship. Our coaches, players and management will have one goal in mind, and that’s for our team to compete nightly while representing the Lakers, D-Fenders and our fans.”
The D-Fenders set a single-season D-League record for wins when Henry was an assistant, tallying 38 wins in 2011-12 and making their first NBA D-League Finals appearance. After the 2012-13 season, Henry joined the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, amassing a 62-38 record in two seasons, winning the NBA D-League Championship in 2013-14 and falling just short in 2014-15. Henry served as head coach of the NBA D-League Select Team in the 2014 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, tallying a 3-3 record.
“Our goal is to cultivate players and staff for the Lakers and the NBA, while competing for a D-League Championship,” said Mazzella. “Conner has had great success over the past two seasons as a head coach in the D-League, and we are confident that with him at the helm these objectives will be met.”
Prior to his work in the NBA D-League, Henry spent four years in the Australian National Basketball League, serving as an assistant coach for the Perth Wildcats (2006-08), before becoming the head coach in 2008-09. Henry then joined the Sydney Kings as an assistant coach for the 2010-11 season, before returning stateside with the D-Fenders.
The 51-year old Henry enjoyed a lengthy professional career, including stints in the NBA with the Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings from 1986-1988. Henry would also prosper in the CBA, as well as in the Italian, Spanish, French and Greek professional leagues. The Claremont, CA native attended the University of California, Santa Barbara and tallied 1,236 points in his four years. Henry was then selected by the Houston Rockets with the 19th pick of the fourth round in the 1986 NBA Draft.