Becky Hammon could be set to make history, with the long-tenured San Antonio assistant a finalist for the current head coaching vacancy in Portland and also interviewing for the open role in Orlando, per Shams Charania.
Hammon joins a list of other high-profile candidates vying for the Trailblazers position, including former NBA All Star and current Los Angeles Clippers assistant, Chauncey Billups, former Phoenix Suns head coach and current Brooklyn Nets assistant, Mike D'Antoni, and Spurs vice president of basketball operations, Brent Barry, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.
South Carolina and USA women's coach Dawn Staley is also being interviewed for the position. This means that there are currently two coaches vying for the opportunity to become the first female head coach of the NBA in 2021.
Sources: Among Portland Trail Blazers top head coaching candidates: Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, Spurs assistant Becky Hammon, Univ. of South Carolina/USA women's coach Dawn Staley, Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni and Spurs executive Brent Barry.https://t.co/BSXe6jt45J
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 12, 2021
Hammon has already made history by becoming the first female head coach for an NBA match, earlier this season. This was after head coach, Gregg Popovich, was ejected during the Spurs' matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers. Hammon took over coaching duties for the remainder of the match.
She was also the first female full-time assistant coach in any of the four major North American professional sports (Basketball, Baseball, Football, or Hockey) competitions.
Having sat on the San Antonio bench for seven years, Hammon has been learning from one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, Gregg Popovich. This NBA experience and training from 'Pop' makes her the most likely female coach to break into the head coaching ranks.
Earlier this year, Hammon was asked about the prospect of coaching in the NBA, where she touched on the importance of being a trailblazer for young female coaches coming up the ranks.
“People don’t like doing something new and different. It’s uncomfortable.
"It takes a 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.”
Dawn Staley is also an accomplished coach in her own right, however.
She has coached South Carolina to six SEC tournament titles, three Final Four appearances, and the NCAA college championship in 2017. She also was awarded the Naismith College, USBWA, Associated Press College, and the WBCA National Coach of the year in 2020.
While garnering plenty of interest, Staley does appear unlikely to make the leap into the NBA. When talking to reporters in April, she showed a muted interest in making the move.
“No ounce of me really wants to coach outside of college”
Instead, she believes her talents are better utilised helping to develop and promote women's basketball first.
“I don’t know why my level of interest has never been to coach in the WNBA, NBA, or coach on the men’s (college) side. I don’t know why my competitiveness won’t allow me to go there. Maybe because I think there’s too much work to be done in our game."
"There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in women’s basketball.”