Knicks Rumors: Spurs' Becky Hammon Interested in Head Coaching Position

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorDecember 7, 2019

San Antonio Spurs head assistant coach Becky Hammon watches during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, in Washington. The Wizards won 138-132. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

San Antonio Spurs assistant head coach Becky Hammon is reportedly a candidate for the New York Knicks' head coaching position after they fired David Fizdale on Friday.

Jabari Young and Ganesh Setty of CNBC wrote: "According to a league source, the former New York Liberty guard would have interest in coaching the Knicks if she could land a long-term deal, with the belief a four- or five-year deal would be sufficient."

Young and Setty also mentioned former New York Knicks guard and Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson as a possibility, as well as ex-Toronto Raptors and Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Sam Mitchell.

Hammon, 42, is in her sixth season as a Spurs assistant. She played professionally in the WNBA and overseas from 1999 to 2012, including an eight-year stint with the Liberty. The former Colorado State star made six WNBA All-Star Games and landed on the All-WNBA First Team twice. Hammon was voted one of the top 15 players in league history in 2011.

She has experience as a head coach, leading the Spurs to the NBA Summer League title in 2015 in her first season and reprising that role in 2016 and 2019.

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich promoted Hammon up the assistant ranks in 2018.

Hammon also got the chance to co-lead the Spurs when Popovich was ejected against the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 16. Per the New York Post, assistants Tim Duncan, Will Hardy and Hammon led the Spurs by committee, and Duncan called the plays.

The Knicks' head coaching job is a daunting one. Coaches have come and gone through a revolving door since 2001, as only one person (Mike D'Antoni) has survived for more than three full seasons. No coach has led for four or more full years since Jeff Van Gundy in the late 1990s and early 2000s. And this year's team is just 4-18 after going 17-65 last season.

But Hammon might be the right person to lead the Knicks and become the first female head coach in NBA history. There's no denying her excellent resume, as she flourished in the professional ranks and has coached under a five-time NBA champion for five-plus years. Her work has also received ringing endorsements from players and coaches, including Popovich and NBA center Pau Gasol.

In July 2018, Popovich told reporters:

"She's a special, special woman. You know we promoted her again. She's going to be on the front of the bench now, sitting next to me. She's not behind the bench anymore. She's on the bench because J.B. Borrego took the head job in Charlotte. So she's replacing him. That's how much I think of her. ...

"She knows her stuff. She's confident. The he-she thing doesn't fit at all. She's a coach, and just happens to be a she. That's it. If it was a he, and more qualified, I would have hired a he. But this she was qualified, and that's who I wanted."

Gasol praised Hammon in an open letter about female coaches on the Players' Tribune in May 2018.

"I'm telling you: Becky Hammon can coach," Gasol wrote. "I'm not saying she can coach pretty well. I'm not saying she can coach enough to get by. I'm not saying she can coach almost at the level of the NBA's male coaches. I'm saying: Becky Hammon can coach NBA basketball. Period."

Regardless of the Knicks job or any other head coaching position Hammon could land, the Spurs are currently looking to improve upon an 8-14 record. They've fared well recently, beating the 14-7 Houston Rockets and 16-6 Los Angeles Clippers to win two of their last three games.