Denver Nuggets rookie Jordan Hamilton(notes) thinks that his former coach in Texas, Rick Barnes, is the reason he nearly fell out of the first round of the draft last week, after Barnes reportedly told several teams that Hamilton "wasn't coachable." Could there possibly be anything to that, or is this just sour grapes from a player selected lower than most and far lower than he thought he would go?
The Texas product never really blew the NBA away in the workouts that led up to last Thursday's draft, and his college resume wasn't strong enough to lure teams into thinking that he was some team-changing, lottery-level talent. He could have sneaked into the lottery, though, as the athletic wing's gifts were and are strong enough that he could be a solid starter in this league for years to come.
And though dropping precipitously in the draft is more often a result of an unfortunate confluence of events, rather than a pointed attempt by every selecting team colluding to avoid a certain player, Hamilton is convinced that the latter is at play here. And that Barnes had the biggest role in him falling all the way to 26th in the draft, and eventually the Denver Nuggets.
From Chris Tomasson's Twitter account, quoted directly from Hamilton's introductory press conference as a Nugget:
That's a new one. We've heard of resentment lingering following a college career between a player and coach, we've heard players badmouth college coaches from the safety of the NBA cushion before, and we've certainly seen college coaches hype their players (even if they disagree with them leaving school early) as draft night approaches, or even after it ends. It's good policy for coaches, recruiting-wise.
But this is new. Tomasson went on to quote Hamilton as calling Barnes "a good coach," and Barnes has had no comment since. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if Barnes warned teams about his relationship with the Texas coaching staff, if not against drafting Hamilton. It's very possible that Hamilton, throughout his college career, "wasn't coachable." This may or may not have any bearing on his pro career (players change, they grow, and they develop), but Barnes wouldn't be out of line in keeping his scouting credibility with pro teams on the up and up, and he's certainly never wrong just as long as he's telling the truth.
It's still pretty wacky, though, for this all to get out.