Drive lands former NBA exec

Drive lands former NBA exec

Former Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith was named the head coach of the Grand Rapids Drive on Wednesday. Courtesy Detroit Pistons

The Grand Rapids Drive is one step closer to tipping off its season in November.

Stan Van Gundy, the Detroit Pistons head coach and president of basketball operations, was in town Wednesday to introduce Otis Smith as head coach of the Drive, the Pistons’NBA Development League affiliate. The Drive starts its season in the middle of November.

“I’m pleased to welcome Otis Smith to the Detroit Pistons organization as the head coach of the Grand Rapids Drive,”Van Gundy said. “Otis understands the vision and connectivity we want to create between the Detroit Pistons and the Grand Rapids Drive, our NBA D-League affiliate. His experiences as a general manager, director of player development and NBA player will pay dividends as he spearheads our efforts in Grand Rapids.”

Executive experience

Smith brings more than 25 years of experience to Grand Rapids, including a stint as president of basketball operations and general manager of the Orlando Magic from 2010-2012.

Prior to Smith’s promotion to general manager, he held a number of other positions with the Magic since 2003, including director of player development and assistant general manager, and was promoted to general manager in May 2006.

Under Smith, the Magic made the playoffs six times, including a trip to the NBA Finals in 2009. Orlando went 299-177 in Smith’s six seasons at the helm of the Magic, including four consecutive seasons of 50-plus wins.

Before Orlando, Smith spent a season as the executive director of basketball operations with the Golden State Warriors, following a three-year stint as the director of community relations with the Warriors.

His front office career started with the Magic in 1996 as a community relations manager.

“We are thrilled to welcome Otis into the Grand Rapids Drive organization,”said Steve Jbara, president of the Grand Rapids Drive. “His basketball and player development knowledge, as well as his front office experience, will be extremely beneficial moving forward with the franchise. There is no doubt in my mind that Otis is the right man for the job. Our fans and the local basketball community are in for a special season.”

Playing experience

Smith graduated from his hometown Jacksonville University in 1986.

He was selected with the 41st pick of the 1986 NBA draft by the Denver Nuggets and went on to play in 375 NBA games, spending time with the Nuggets, Golden State Warriors and Orlando Magic.

In six seasons, he averaged 10.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and a steal per game.

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