Let me start this piece off with this: No, the Wizards haven’t made a change with their head coaching position. There is no timetable on when they announce what happens to Scott Brooks’ and his staff’s status.
But we can muse about what other teams are doing with their head coaching searches. And it appears that we may be moving toward a new era in the NBA regarding their hiring processes.
It is long assumed that long-time San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon, the lead assistant on Gregg Popovich’s staff, will be a head coach soon. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, she will be interviewing with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Orlando Magic, two teams with vacancies. I’m not surprised since she is one of the top names in any coaching search.
But what caught my eye the most was a subtweet where Charania reported that the Blazers are also considering South Carolina women’s basketball and USA Basketball women’s national team head coach Dawn Staley for the position. It’s unclear if Staley will interview.
Spurs assistant Becky Hammon -- who this season became the first woman to serve as head coach in an NBA game -- will soon interview for the Trail Blazers and Orlando Magic head coaching jobs, sources said. https://t.co/BSXe6jt45J https://t.co/q7HlrKr2Fd— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 12, 2021
Staley’s resume as a coach is stellar. She has led the Gamecocks to three Final Four appearances and the 2016-17 NCAA women’s basketball national championship while turning South Carolina into the SEC’s top program. Before heading to South Carolina, Staley was the head coach at Temple from 2000-01 to 2007-08 where the Owls were a perennial NCAA Tournament team from the Atlantic 10.
As the head coach of Team USA, she led them to the 2018 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup gold medal and was an assistant on their national team since 2006.
I’ll also add that Staley was a stellar player in her own right. Before Sue Bird became Team USA’s starting point guard, it was her. Staley won the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympic Gold Medals and had a successful WNBA and professional playing career, mostly with the now-defunct Charlotte Sting from 1999-2005. She even has ties with the Mid-Atlantic where she played for the Virginia Cavaliers in College where she was part of two national runner-up teams!
I didn’t make a typo with the years of Staley’s coaching and playing career by the way. She was Temple’s head coach AND an active WNBA All-Star and Olympic basketball player for several years. No one has done it ever since. That takes a lot of great time management, and that certainly can’t hurt her candidacy for any position.
Whether Staley interviews or even gets hired to lead the Trail Blazers, we don’t know. But we are in an era where we will see more women being interviewed for head coaching positions. With the increasing number of female assistants on NBA teams and also the increasing amount of respect for women’s basketball coaches (Lindsay Gottlieb was hired by the Cleveland Cavaliers to be an assistant for two years (2019-21) after leading California’s women’s team), it isn’t entirely unexpected. And eventually, it won’t be long until we see at least one woman and then multiple women hired as head coaches of NBA teams.