NBA commissioner Adam Silver believes the league is long overdue for its first female head coach, and he already has a timeline in mind for when he expects it to happen.
"I would be hugely disappointed if certainly in five years we haven't seen our first female head coach in the NBA," Silver told Bonnie Bernstein on the NCAA's podcast channel, per Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports.
In the 76-year history of the NBA, 15 women have worked as assistant coaches. There are five female assistant coaches currently working in the league today: Jenny Boucek (Indiana Pacers), Lindsey Harding (Sacramento Kings), Sonia Raman (Minnesota Grizzlies), Kristi Toliver (Dallas Mavericks) and Teresa Weatherspoon (New Orleans Pelicans).
The NBA has also hired more female referees in recent years. While the league has received praise for its strides forward in multiple areas, Silver said he feels not enough progress has been made in hiring practices.
"I've said this before, as much as professional sports has led and the WNBA and NBA have led in certain areas, we're a bit behind in this area," Silver said. "We should have more women head coaches. We should have a female head coach right now. We should have more women referees, and it's something we're working very hard on right now."
Silver named Las Vegas Aces head coach Becky Hammon as a woman who can eventually break that barrier in the NBA. Hammon spent eight seasons as an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs, becoming the first woman to serve as head coach in a game when Gregg Popovich was away from the team in 2020. Hammon accepted the position with the Aces prior to the 2022 season and led the team to its first championship in franchise history.
Bernstein told McCarthy that she believes Silver is genuine about his feelings and she's confident he will continue working toward bringing about progress in the NBA.
"While he's obviously not dictating coaching hires, or officiating hires, his voice carries an extraordinary amount of weight," Bernstein said. "It not only moves the needle in basketball circles, it influences all of sports. So, for him to be as vocal as he was about the NBA being behind the eight ball when it comes to women in coaching and officiating, that's an incredibly powerful statement."