Brian Shaw will coach NBA's new G League team of elite young players

Broderick Turner
Brian Shaw was an assistant with the Lakers under Luke Walton from 2016 to 2019.  (Kathy Willens / Associated Press)

Perhaps it was all those years of helping to settle the differences between Lakers teammates Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, playing and coaching under Phil Jackson, and playing in the NBA that made Brian Shaw uniquely qualified for his new position.

Shaw has been chosen to coach the new NBA G League team, launched for elite players coming out of high school who view this as an alternative path to the NBA instead of attending college or playing overseas.

Shaw will be more than a coach for these players, who will earn at least $125,000 for a five-month contract.

He will be a mentor who offers sage advice. He will be a teacher who offers basketball instruction. He will be the voice that will listen, instruct, critique and encourage a group of young men with aspirations of playing in the NBA in the near future.

“I’m thrilled to just have an opportunity to serve as a mentor and a coach and developer of some young, fresh talented guys that still have another level to go to,” Shaw said. “So that makes it unique, and it makes it new for me to help develop these guys to try to realize their NBA goals, and to do everything in my power to try to get them there.”

Shaw had been working for NBA TV as an analyst the last few months, his NBA coaching career on hold after the Lakers let him go as lead assistant on head coach Luke Walton’s staff after the 2018-19 season.

The opportunity to coach again, be a part of young men’s lives and have a positive influence lured him back.

“Once it was kind of put in front of me and presented, it kind of made me go, ‘Huh, this is kind of interesting!’ And I think the place I am in life right now and everything that I’ve already done and kind of been through, the idea and the thought of this re-energized me, for a lack of better words, and it really piqued my interest,” Shaw said. “And as I delved into it a little bit deeper, it made sense for me right now.”

Shaw was an assistant coach with the Lakers under Jackson from 2003 to 2011, an assistant with the Indiana Pacers under Frank Vogel from 2011 to 2013, head coach of the Denver Nuggets in 2014-15 and an assistant with the Lakers under Walton from 2016 to 2019.

Over a 14-year NBA career, Shaw won three NBA championships with the Lakers from 2000 to 2002.

He had all the qualities that Shareef Abdur-Rahim, president of the NBA G League, was looking for.

“We’re thrilled to have Brian as head coach of the NBA G League team,” he said. “Brian’s extensive experience and success as an NBA player and coach make him a natural choice to lead the development of these terrific young players and help them grow as professionals.”

The talented group of players that Shaw will coach features Jalen Green, a 6-foot-5 guard who was considered the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2020. Other top players signed for next season include Isaiah Todd, a 6-10 forward who had committed to Michigan, Daishen Nix, a 6-4 guard who had committed to UCLA, and Kai Sotto, a 7-2 prospect from the Philippines.

The G League program for elite young players includes college tuition to attend Arizona State. Players have until five years after their careers end to take advantage of that partnership.

“In my short stint as a head coach in the NBA, it taught me patience,” said Shaw, 54. “At one point I used to always draw a line in the sand and be like, ‘This is the way it is.’ But we live in a different world now, where you have to be a little bit more sensitive. I’m constantly learning and applying what I’ve learned, so patience is another adjective that I would use to describe how I would have to be as well.”

A decision on where the G League team will be based has yet to be made, but the Los Angeles area is being considered.

The team will play 20 to 25 games, some against existing G League teams and, with hope, some against junior national teams from other countries.

There will be some veterans on the team, former NBA players who will help with mentoring the young players.

But Shaw will be the man in charge.

Whether this opportunity leads him back into the NBA coaching ranks, Shaw is humbled to have a chance to mold the next generation of players.

“Once it’s successful and it’s starting to grow, I could see myself loving this and wanting to do this until I ride off into the sunset,” he said. “But obviously if other opportunities came up, I’d have to weigh them. But I’m very happy with the decision I made to take this route, and I’m happy that they reached out to me and put me in a position to be the coach of this team and to lead these young guys going forward.”