NBA veteran and one-time Nuggets’ player Popeye Jones is joining Denver as an assistant coach.
Jones, who was an assistant last season with Doc Rivers and the Philadelphia 76ers, was welcomed to the team on Monday.
He fills the vacancy created by Wes Unseld Jr.’s departure to become head coach of the Washington Wizards.
Join us in welcoming Popeye Jones to the coaching staff!
🔗 https://t.co/AMLjmAlCVY#MileHighBasketball pic.twitter.com/5G9aMopKPM
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) August 23, 2021
Jones will be on the front of the bench with head coach Michael Malone’s staff per The Undefeated’s Marc Spears.
The 51-year-old Jones spent the past 11 seasons as an NBA assistant after playing 11 years in the league averaging 7.0 points and 7.4 rebounds in 23.5 minutes per game.
Known for his on-court hustle and rebounding, Jones started his pro career in Italy before joining the NBA in 1993 and playing the first of two stints with Dallas.
He would go on to play for Toronto, Boston, Denver, Washington before his final year with Golden State in 2003-04.
His coaching career started with the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets (2010-2013), then the Indiana Pacers (2013-2020), the Philadelphia 76ers (2020-2021), and now with the Nuggets.
“He ( Coach Malone) said he was looking for an experienced coach, and I’ve been doing it a long time now,” said Jones. “And, you know, he really didn’t say I’d coach one side of the ball, and I always saw myself as a coach who can coach both sides of the ball.”
The move is a bit of a homecoming for Jones.
“I lived in Denver for eight years, my kids started playing hockey in Denver, really love the area, and then also obviously playing for the franchise,” Jones said. “So (there was) a lot of interest in coming back.”
The Nuggets, with last year’s MVP Nikola Jokic, returning injured starter Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr., are expected to make a strong showing in the West despite the plethora of talent the conference boasts.