Spurs' Ime Udoka, 76ers Reportedly Agree to Contract to Join Brett Brown's Staff

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistJune 7, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 23: Assistant coach Ime Udoka of the San Antonio Spurs talks to Jakob Poeltl #25 during the game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on November 23, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers have hired Ime Udoka away from the San Antonio Spurs to serve as an assistant on Brett Brown's coaching staff, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. 

Charania noted Udoka is expected to fill the vacancy left by Monty Williams, who was hired as the head coach of the Phoenix Suns last month.

Udoka has spent his entire coaching career as an assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, helping the team reach a pair of NBA Finals while winning a championship in 2014. He handled head-coaching responsibilities for the Spurs in both the 2013 and 2014 Las Vegas Summer Leagues, as well.

The 41-year-old interviewed for the Cleveland Cavaliers' head-coaching job earlier this offseason.

During his time under Popovich, a five-time NBA champion, Udoka learned that developing relationships with the players is the most important aspect of the role, per ESPN's Francis Okupa:

"Anybody can do Xs and Os and game plan for a team and scheme. Pops got all the bases covered, he's great in all areas but he's the best at relating to the players. Building a relationship with those players.

"Obviously, showing he cares for them is a big part of it. That's the thing I'll probably take away the most, the overall relationship with players. Once they know you care about them you can coach them a certain way and they allow you to coach them, but if it was that easy anybody that has a job would be able to coach guys and that's not always the case."

Udoka has a decade's worth of experience learning from Popovich as both a player and an assistant coach. Now, he will have the opportunity to reunite with Brown, who was previously with the Spurs, as well.

As The Athletic's Rich Hofmann noted, this move could help Udoka become a head coach one day: 

Rich Hofmann @rich_hofmann

Udoka has been on Pop’s bench for a long time. Sixers lead assistant got a head coaching job the last two years, would have to think that played a part in him being willing to leave San Antonio. https://t.co/gdn6kJMMD3

Former Sixers assistant Lloyd Pierce was hired by the Atlanta Hawks in 2018.

Meanwhile, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Will Hardy is expected to take on a more prominent role on the Spurs' coaching staff following Udoka's departure.