The Timberwolves' new Iowa G-League team today officially announced Scott Roth as its new head coach.
Wolves GM Scott Layden gave him his first NBA chance, signing him for Utah as a wing player out of Albany, N.Y. and the CBA in the late 1980s. Wolves coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau was a rookie NBA assistant coach when Roth played on that very first Wolves team in 1989-90 under his former CBA coach Bill Musselman.
A career coach from the D League, the Spanish league, four different countries' national teams to the NBA, Roth also is known as something of a big man's coach.
He is credited with helping develop Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas, Pau Gasol in Memphis and more recently, Kristaps Porzingis in Spain. That's significant because he'll like get Wolves first-round pick Justin Patton for some meaningful time with the Iowa Wolves this winter once Patton recovers from a broken bone in his foot.
"It's kind of funny, when I played my whole career I was a multi-dimensional player, but I never was a big player, as far as a center or a power forward," Roth said in an introductory conference call today. "I'd been a wing and an off guard and I played some point guard in my career. I don't why, but when I got to Dallas with Nellie (Don Nelson) for my first job, I picked Dirk Nowitzki up at the airport and from that point on, I kind of stayed with the bigger players and have been fortunate enough to be in Memphis when Shane Battier and Pau was there and I lived with Pau for the whole season...
"I've just been lucky to be around a lot of good players, most of them big: (Andrea) Bargnani in Toronto and Amir Johnson and (Jonas) Valanciunas in Toronto, Andre Drummond in Detroit. So I've just been around those kind of guys and gravitated to that area and I really enjoy it. Not that I can't work with smaller players, but that's kind of been my niche, I would say for right now.
"It was important than they (the Wolves) felt comfortable with a guy who had experience and background in developing players. In my interview with Thibs, I said Justin Patton is right up my alley: A very skilled big with a lot of growth ahead of him, a big upside. That's right up the alley of the kind of guys I've been around and had success with. I think it was an important piece of the puzzle for me being hired."
On that first Wolves team, Musselman played the 6-8 Roth some at center long before it was the fashionable thing to do in the NBA.
"Bill had me play everywhere," Roth said. "I can remember bringing the ball up. I can remember guarding Patrick Ewing. I can remember guarding Charles Barkley. I can remember guarding all different kinds of players under Bill. But I would never consider myself a big player. When I played for Frank Layden -- Scott's father -- in Utah, I was a guard.
"You've got to be multi-dimensional. I think it's helped my background being around those kinds of coaches. The G League is all about that. You get guys who are in between positions and that's something I can relate very strongly with them and bring value to them."
A first-round pick out of Creighton, Patton broke a bone in his foot in June after he slipped on a wet spot on the practice floor, Thibodeau said. Thibodeau is "hopeful" he'll be recovered and ready by the time the regular season opens in mid October.