Becky Hammon and what her signing means for Las Vegas Aces, league and her future in the NBA

In August 2014, Becky hammon She played her last game for the San Antonio Stars and said goodbye to the WNBA to move into an assistant coach role with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs.

Now, she is finalizing a five-year contract and returning to the WNBA, and indirectly to the franchise with which she spent eight of her 16 seasons as a player.

Hammon will take over as head coach of Las Vegas Aces and will try to lead them to their first WNBA title. The Aces were originally the Utah Starzz when the league was launched in 1997. The franchise then moved to San Antonio in 2003, and finally to Las Vegas in 2018. The Aces paid tribute to Hammon last season by retiring his jersey, and now she will be the coach.

Bill Laimbeer has coached the Aces to a 77-45 record in the past four seasons, losing in the WNBA semifinals in 2019 and 2021, and the Finals in 2020. While it is unclear at this time what role, if is that he has some, he will have Laimbeer with the franchise, he has laid a very good base for the Aces. Can Hammon lead them across the finish line to a championship?

We take a look at what the move means for Hammon, the Aces, WNBA and NBA.

What style will Hammon bring to the Aces?

As a player, Hammon was highly respected. The story that she was not selected in the draft in 1999 has always been an asterisk, because that was the year that many of the former players of the American Basketball League entered the WNBA, which influenced the number of college players who they were chosen in that draft.

Still, Hammon always used not being recruited as another motivation chip, although she had enough of just being a 5-foot-6 guard from a middle school. But Hammon always believed in herself, and not long after her playing career in the WNBA, she made everyone a believer. He was part of very good teams in both New York from 1999 to 2006 and San Antonio from 2007 to 2014, including four appearances to the WNBA Finals.

Hammon was unafraid when driving on the court, she could make great shots on the perimeter, she was very good at distributing the ball and she helped build the confidence of everyone around her.

As a coach, Hammon can get tough when she needs to, but she’s also an uplifting motivator. Laimbeer got along well with his superstar player, forward A’ja Wilson, so Hammon will cultivate that relationship.

Hammon has already done some work with Aces players like point guard Kelsey Plum, whom he met when Plum was a rookie in San Antonio in 2017 before the franchise moved to Las Vegas. Hammon has a lot to offer the Aces guards thanks to her own experience as a longtime perimeter player in the WNBA. But her years as an NBA coach put her in a good position to guide the inner strength of Las Vegas as well.

What does this recruitment mean for the Aces?

Laimbeer has brought the franchise to the brink of a title. Former Aces general manager Dan Padover left in October to take over as general manager and executive vice president of the Atlanta Dream. Perhaps Laimbeer will carry over to the GM role, where he has experience from his previous jobs as the WNBA head coach in Detroit and New York.

Owner Mark Davis, who bought the Aces in January, has already made several moves with the franchise, including adding former LSU coach Nikki Fargas as team president and former WNBA player Jennifer Azzi as director. developmental. He seems committed to the Aces being a gold standard type franchise for the WNBA.

The Aces have one of the best young players in the league in Wilson, who was the 2020 MVP and is only 25 years old. She is currently a restricted free agent, and center Liz Cambage is an unrestricted free agent.

Plum had the best season of her career in the WNBA last year. She, Jackie Young, and Dearica Hamby have consistently contributed over the years to the Aces. Chelsea Gray was a good fit as a free agent in 2021, as did Angel McCoughtry in 2020. Hopefully, McCoughtry, who missed this season with a knee injury, is back strong for 2022. Whether Cambage returns or not, Las Vegas should be a strong contender again.

What does this move mean for Hammon’s future in the NBA?

Many assumed Hammon was on her way to becoming an NBA head coach, as she is in her eighth season as an assistant to the Spurs.

Now, though it seems less likely that Hammon will be the first woman to make that breakthrough. It is difficult to know who it will be or when. If Hammon succeeds with the Aces and wins a championship, she might go back to the NBA, and she might still be the first woman to lead a team. Or maybe she won’t come back at all.

Laimbeer left the WNBA during the 2009 season and then was in the NBA as an assistant with the Timberwolves from 2009 to 2012. But Laimbeer has said that he thought he would not have the opportunity to be an NBA head coach, and came back to the WNBA, with New York.

It is very difficult to move up the coaching ladder in the NBA, and to put it bluntly, we can’t know for sure how many franchises have given Hammon a legitimate shot at winning a head coaching job, rather than interviewing her.

Perhaps this move to the Aces is an opportunity for her to prove herself in a different way. Or maybe it’s what suits you now. Regardless, there will be excitement among WNBA fans to have her back.

It remains to be seen what training in the NBA means for women. Commissioner Adam Silver has lobbied the league to bring in women in many different NBA roles, including as coaches, but it will still take a franchise to make a bold move to put a woman in charge as head coach.

Who are the favorites for the other two vacant WNBA head coach positions?

When the Liberty job opened earlier this month, the franchise and Walt Hopkins parted ways. The idea was that maybe that franchise could attract Hammon. And he interviewed Liberty, according to sources.

The favorite for the New York job now could be former Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello, who also parted ways with the Mercury this month. As for Phoenix, Mercury’s assistant Chasity Melvin and Sparks’s assistant Latricia Trammell are in the mix, and Trammell also interviewed in New York.