Former Cleveland Cavaliers center Vitaly Potapenko is joining Cleveland’s coaching staff as a player development coach, according to Yahoo! Sports. The 38-year-old Ukrainian has been an assistant in the NBA and in the Developmental League as of late, most recently with the Santa Cruz Warriors.
After playing college basketball at Wright State, Potapenko’s NBA career began in Cleveland in 1996, when he was selected with the 12th overall pick. In his three seasons with the Wine & Gold, he averaged 6.7 points and 3.5 rebounds. In 1999, he was traded to the Boston Celtics for center Andrew DeClercq and a future first round pick that later became Andre Miller.
In his 11 NBA seasons, Potapenko averaged 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds before retiring after the 2007 season.
While Potapenko will likely not travel with the team, he joins a coaching staff with Phil Handy and Igor Kokoskov already on staff after being hired by Brown. Jamahi Mosley is the lone holdover from Byron Scott’s staff.
Potapenko also will be reunited with former teammate Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who was selected eight picks after Potapenko in 1996. Now a special assistant to general manager Chris Grant, it will be interesting to see if the two European bigs will be used to help the Cavaliers growing number of big men – particularly young guns Tyler Zeller, Tristan Thompson and (probably) Nerlens Noel.