Becky Hammon, the Spurs assistant who’s been mentioned as an NBA head coach, is now being pursued by Joe and Clara Wu Tsai for the Liberty head coaching job ... and she’s interested, according to a number of reports and social media Saturday,
Hammon, a star for the Liberty in her WNBA days, is also being pursued by the Las Vegas Aces, according to those same reports. The Liberty head coaching job became open earlier this month when New York dumped Walt Hopkins after two seasons with a record of 14-40. He did get the Liberty to the WNBA playoffs this season.
Shams Charania and Chantal Jennings of The Athletic reported the mutual interest Saturday.
The New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces are seriously pursuing San Antonio Spurs assistant and WNBA legend Becky Hammon to be their respective franchise’s new head coach, and Hammon has mutual interest in making a potential jump, sources tell The Athletic.
If Hammon chooses to accept either the Liberty or Aces job, it’s expected to take place in the lead up to the WNBA’s January free agency, sources tell The Athletic.
WNBA free agency begins on January 15.
Charania and Jennings reported that while the Aces have a head coach in Bill Lambier, the Pistons great is willing to move into a front office position to accommodate Hammons. But it would seem the Liberty is the more likely landing spot ... IF New York is interested. They have reportedly interviewed former Phoenix Mercury head coach Sandy Brondello and long-time Sparks assistant Latricia Trammell.
Hammons discussed her interest ten days ago in an interview with LaChina Robinson of ESPN. In that interview, the 44-year-old Hammons made it clear she did not see leaving the NBA assistant job for a WNBA head coaching post as a step back.
I asked @BeckyHammon about the @nyliberty head coach opening & she replied that her doors are open & don’t be surprised if she makes a return to the women’s game.— LaChina Robinson (@LaChinaRobinson) December 15, 2021
No woman has coached as many #NBA games & played in as many #WNBA games as Becky so this perspective is invaluable. pic.twitter.com/KnCsjQpUwr
“My doors are open. I never closed the door on coming back to the women either,” Hammon told Robinson. “To me, how could I? That’s my heart. That’s my roots! I never close the door on any opportunity. If I went back to the WNBA, don’t blink.
“I don’t look at it as a step back. No, it’s not. It’s a change of direction. It’s a pivot but it’s basketball. It’s the same stuff,” she added.
Although Hammon has interviewed for several NBA head coaching jobs — the Blazers and Magic this past summer — but has also said while she wants to coach in the NBA, she’s not sure the league wants to take the chance on something as pioneering as a woman coach.
“People don’t like doing something new and different,” Hammon told the TODAY Show. “It’s uncomfortable. It takes massive amount of risk. Somebody’s going to have to take a chance ... In some ways I feel like it could be in a year. In other ways, it could be 10 years. I’m not really sure. What I’m sure of is, I’ll be ready.”
While she has been endorsed by Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, it’s believed that another assistant, Tim Duncan, is likely to replace Pop when he retires.
Hammon, of course, played eight seasons — her first eight for the Liberty — and bringing her back would be a big coup for Tsais who want to increase attendance at Barclays Center. The Liberty averaged a little more than 1,800 fans last season, their first in Brooklyn. That’s about one-fifth of what the Liberty was getting in their last season in the Garden three years ago.
One bit issue would be money. According to Mechelle Voepel of ESPNW, “Hammon’s salary is estimated in the $750,000 range, more than twice what some WNBA coaches reportedly make.”
The Tsais, of course, have proven they’re willing to invest in both the Nets and Liberty. Last month, Clara Wu Tsai told YES Network, “We’re going to invest in the New York Liberty the same way we invest in our NBA team.”
- Spurs assistant Becky Hammon being seriously pursued by Aces, Liberty for head coaching vacancies: Sources - Chantel Jennings & Shams Charania - The Athletic