Las Vegas aces announce hiring of Becky Hammon as coach

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The Aces made it official on Friday, announcing the hiring of WNBA legend Becky Hammon as their coach.

Hammon, currently assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs, will end the season with the NBA team and then take over in Las Vegas before the 2022 season. The contract is for five years and makes her the highest paid coach in the WNBA. .

“I’m very excited to be returning to the WNBA and grateful (owner) Mark Davis and (team president) Nikki Fargas for having a vision for me to lead the Aces,” Hammon said in a statement. “This is where I’m from.”

Former coach Bill Laimbeer will stay with the organization and help build the list with free agency starting next week.

Hammon played 16 seasons in the WNBA, including eight with the San Antonio Stars, who moved to Las Vegas in 2017 and became the Aces. She won six All-Star nominations and was named to four All-WNBA teams. , winning two first-team caps.

She also played eight years for New York Liberty, with whom she signed in 1999 as an undrafted free agent after playing for Colorado State.

Hammon has averaged 13.0 points, 3.8 assists and shot 37.8% to 3 points during his career. She played her best years with the Stars, averaging 15.6 points and 5.1 assists in 223 games.

She is still the franchise’s career leader in assists (1,333), 3 points (498) and free throw percentage (92.1). She ranks second in points (3,474) and career scoring average (15.6) and fourth in 3-point percentage (38.8).

The Aces retired Hammon’s No.25 shirt on September 13 at the behest of Davis, who graced the franchise alumni at halftime of every home game last season. Davis spent time with Hammon that week and talks about the coaching position began about a month ago, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

“It’s an exciting day for the Aces organization,” said Davis. “From the moment I met Becky Hammon, I hoped that one day she would join the family. I never imagined it would happen so soon.

Hammon, 44, inherits a roster of All-Star caliber players such as point guard Chelsea Gray, combo guard Kelsey Plum and forward Dearica Hamby. Former No.1 pick Jackie Young is also under contract, as is second-year guard Destiny Slocum.

Franchisee and former WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson is a restricted free agent, which means the Aces can match any offer and everything except make sure she gets to Las Vegas next season. Other key players, such as All-Star center Liz Cambage, All-Star winger Angel McCoughtry and two-way winger Riquna Williams, are unrestricted free agents.

Laimbeer had coached Aces since 2018 and was 77-45. He guided the franchise from the bottom of the WNBA to the top, reaching the semifinals three times and the WNBA finals in 2020.

He is 306-215 in 17 seasons as a WNBA coach, winning titles in 2003, 2006 and 2008 with the Detroit Shock. Only Washington Mystics coach Mike Thibault has more WNBA coaching wins (357) than Laimbeer.

“This is the best possible scenario for the Las Vegas Aces,” Laimbeer said in a statement. “It takes a lot of energy to be a head coach. At Becky, the team now has someone who can take on this role for the long haul. “

Hammon began his coaching career in 2014, becoming the first full-time assistant in NBA history under the leadership of Spurs legend Gregg Popovich. She coached the Spurs to an NBA Summer League championship in 2015 and became the first interim head coach in NBA history on December 30, 2020, after Popovich was ejected from a game.

“She is a very valuable part of the program. I have come to depend on her a lot, ”Popovich said. “For her, this is a great opportunity to be a head coach at this level – to prove herself. She’s already proven herself to me, but that doesn’t matter in the long run.

“She interviewed for a few jobs in the NBA. She would have been more than qualified… but it didn’t work. She certainly can, and I think she will prove it in Vegas. They have a hell of a trainer who comes to them.

Popovich also praised Hammon’s coaching skills: intelligence, intuitive sense of the game, work ethic, ability to teach.

“It’s no different because it’s a woman,” he said. “She has to have the same qualities that guys have as a coach. And she has them.

Hammon returned the compliment.

“I’m especially grateful to Pop, who only cared about my potential, not my gender,” Hammon said. “He saw something special in me and was willing to invest the time and energy to help teach and develop a young coach.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at [email protected] To follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.



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