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New York Liberty coaching search continues as Becky Hammon joins Las Vegas Aces

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San Antonio Spurs v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The search continues.

After the New York Liberty and coach Walt Hopkins parted ways at the beginning of December, the team has been on the hunt looking for a replacement. A — or the — leading contender for the vacant position was former Liberty star and San Antonio Spurs assistant coach, Becky Hammon. Her pedigree as an assistant and success as a player in New York made her a strong candidate for the position. However, that dream was not meant to be for New York.

The Athletic’s Chantel Jennings broke the story late Thursday night:

Hammon will also serve as the Aces’ GM. Current coach Bill Lambier will serve as a consultant.

Hammon will be going to the Las Vegas Aces on a reported five-year deal and will become the WNBA’s highest paid coach, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Hammon reportedly made $750,000 with the Spurs.

She will be replacing coach Bill Laimbeer, who will move into a front office role with the team. Hammon will be coaching a star studded team that included 2020 WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson, four time All-Star Liz Cambage, 2020 Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby, 2021 Sixth Woman of the Year Kelsey Plum, and more. It’s a full circle moment for Hammon as she finished her playing career with the San Antonio Stars (now Las Vegas Aces) and began her coaching journey in San Antonio. She’ll finish up her duties with the Spurs this season before joining the Aces for the 2022 season which begins in May.

2021 WNBA Playoffs - New York Liberty v Phoenix Mercury Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

For the Liberty, their search for Hopkins’ replacement continues. The early favorite in the clubhouse is former Phoenix Mercury and current Australian Opals head coach, Sandy Brondello. Brondello and the team split after eight successful seasons together, including a 2014 championship and runner up in 2021. Brondello was asked about the New York job and told ESPN’s Kane Pittman:

“The only team that’s available is New York, that would be a great situation if they deemed me to be the next coach. We’ll see, if not I can focus on the Opals next year and look the following year if any jobs become available. I like challenging myself, so we’ll see.”

Another leading candidate is Los Angeles Sparks assistant head coach, Latricia Trammell. Trammell has been coaching for years and has earned praise for her ability to coach great defenses. After winning the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year award, Candace Parker said of Trammell:

Coach T has been huge in our team’s development as well as my development defensively,

The Mercury are also looking for a coach and have been rumored to be interested in Trammell as well. With free agency two weeks away, the Liberty will need to figure out who will be leading the team on the sidelines fast. With Betnijah Laney leading the way along with full, healthy seasons for Sabrina Ionescu and Natasha Howard, the Liberty have a chance to build on their surprise playoff appearance and go further in 2022.