The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has named Dean Cooper as head coach of the Idaho Stampede, the team’s D-League affiliate, pending league approval.
Cooper becomes the 10th head coach in Stampede history and the sixth since the organization became a member of the NBA Development League.
“We are pleased to welcome Dean to our organization,” said Utah Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey. “The D-League is a critical component in building teams and it begins with each affiliate’s head coach. Dean’s addition is another step in the continued expansion of our basketball operations, and his experience and teaching ability will be a tremendous asset to both the Idaho Stampede and Utah Jazz.”
Cooper spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach for the Houston Rockets on Kevin McHale’s staff. He began his NBA career with the Rockets in 1999 as a video coordinator, eventually becoming an assistant coach to Rudy Tomjanovich. When Jeff Van Gundy succeeded Tomjanovich, Cooper transitioned to the front office as a personnel scout for one season before eventually becoming the Director of Scouting (2004-07) and Vice President of Player Personnel (2007-08).
He spent the 2008-09 season as an assistant coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves when McHale was the interim coach. Following a one-year stint as a regional scout for the Timberwolves (2009-10), Cooper became Director of Player Development for the Portland Trail Blazers under then-coach Nate McMillan.
“The Utah Jazz and Idaho Stampede are both model organizations with winning traditions and passionate fans,” said Cooper. “I am looking forward to working with Coach Snyder as we develop a unified approach to player development while continuing to put a team on the floor that will compete every night and make the Boise community proud.”
Prior to the NBA, Cooper coached four years at the collegiate level. For two seasons he was an assistant coach at his alma mater, Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Mich., before taking a similar role at the University of Buffalo for two years. While at Aquinas, he also served in an advance scouting role for the Connecticut Pride of the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) for one season. Cooper began his coaching career at a pair of Michigan high schools, spending five years at Belding High School and three years at Caledonia High School.
A native of Belding, Mich., Cooper has been a camp director in the NBA’s Basketball without Borders program since 2005. Married to Melanie Cooper, he earned his undergraduate degree in business administration from Aquinas College.
“Having coached in the D-League for three seasons, I learned what an extension your affiliate is of your NBA program,” said Utah Jazz Head Coach Quin Snyder. “Dean has a proven history of player development which is an integral aspect of my coaching philosophy. As an extension of our staff, he will work hand-in-hand with us to establish a clear, seamless connection to ensure we are stressing the same principles in Utah and Idaho.”
The Jazz and Stampede have a single affiliation partnership that begins with the 2014-15 NBA D-League season. The partnership, also referred to as a “hybrid affiliation,” is the ninth of its kind in the NBA D-League and enables the Jazz to manage all aspects of the Stampede’s basketball operations, while the existing local ownership group headed by Bill Ilett maintains primary responsibility for the team’s off-the-court business operations and community initiatives.