BOSTON — The San Antonio Spurs assistant-to-head-coach pipeline grew earlier this week when longtime Spurs coach Becky Hammon was named head coach of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.
Her former Spurs colleague and current Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka — who also accepted his first head coach job this season — was “very excited” to see Hammon land a head coaching gig.
“She’s been plugging away for a while now and looking forward to the opportunity, so it was good to see her get the opportunity,” Udoka told reporters Wednesday as the Celtics prepared to host the Spurs. “We’ve seen what she’s done in the past and I was there when she came on board and worked with her for several years, and so I know her mind and the way she thinks about the game and her feels as a player.”
In addition to their coaching connection, Udoka and Hammon also played in San Antonio together. Udoka spent three seasons with the Spurs (2007-2009, 2010-2011) while Hammon rounded out her legendary WNBA career in the city, collecting three All-Star nods in her eight seasons in San Antonio.
Hammon previously has been interviewed for NBA head coaching jobs and was a finalist for the Portland Trail Blazers gig in the offseason, a job that went to Chauncey Billups.
And while she’ll be set in the WNBA for a bit, with ESPN reporting she signed a five-year deal to become the highest-paid coach, Udoka said he hopes to see his former colleague return to the NBA soon.
“That’d be the natural progression, I’d say,” Udoka said. “She did mention it, something that all first-time head coaches hear is that ‘You’ve never done it before,’ so this is kind of checking off that box that she’ll get a chance to do it other than Summer League and other things that she’s done in the past. Just being out there showing that on a different stage will give her a different look coming back to the NBA possibly.”
Hammon will remain with the Spurs through the ongoing season.