Three years removed from his last NBA game, Dan Dickau was still waking up at 6:30 a.m. to lift weights, still hitting the gym to hoist up hundreds of shots, and still spending hours meticulously honing his skill set.
Problem was, the Battle Ground resident had lost his lifelong training partner — his hunger.
“I just didn’t have any desire to do that anymore,” said Dickau, a former basketball star at Prairie High and Gonzaga. “I didn’t have that same focus and determination to keep my skills at that top level. So the more I sat back, the more I wanted to take this next step.”
That next step was joining the Trail Blazers coaching staff.
Wednesday, the organization announced that Dickau will serve as a player development assistant coach focused primarily on working with Portland’s point guards. This will be Dickau’s first full-time coaching gig, but certainly not his first go-round with the franchise.
The 33-year-old was first traded to Portland via Atlanta in 2004, and then again from Boston in 2006. All in all, Dickau logged 70 games in a Blazers jersey — nearly 25 percent of a 300-game career in which he averaged 5.8 points and 2.5 assists.
Dickau admitted that he didn’t foresee himself as a coach during his playing days, figuring he would instead go the broadcasting route.
And while he did serve as a color commentator for Gonzaga games on ROOT Sports this fall, the coaching bug had unexpectedly bit him when he started his youth basketball academy a couple years back.
It seemed, perhaps, that teaching hoops had become Dan’s calling. Lucky for him, Blazers acting general manager Chad Buchanan called.
Buchanan had become acquainted with Dickau over the past couple years when he’d work out in the Blazers’ practice facility during the offseason. And the more he got to know him, the more he figured he would like to have him around during the regular season, too.
“I had always had a great deal of respect for Dan, and his personality always struck me as a guy that would be great as a coach,” Buchanan said. “You can pick up on guys who really understand basketball. Dan’s basketball IQ was always very high. Those are the guys who make really good coaches.”
So Buchanan offered him a job as a player development assistant and said the coaching staff was unanimously supportive. And with the likes of Raymond Felton, Nolan Smith, Armon Johnson and Elliot Williams as potential point guards, Dickau shouldn’t experience much downtime.
But while this new gig charges him with bestowing his knowledge onto others, Dickau confesses he will be just as much a student as a teacher.
“I always had a dream to play with the Portland Trail Blazers, and now that I have the opportunity to coach, I’m going to try and learn as much as possible,” Dickau said. “My role is to be helping the young guys out, but I’m also going to be learning from this staff.”
Dickau played his last NBA game in April of 2008 while wearing a Clippers jersey. He would later join teams in Italy an Germany, and signed with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League in 2010.
All that said, he insists his playing days are over.
“But I’m still going to probably want to jump in a drill sometime.”
Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or firstname.lastname@example.org