The WNBA has seen two of its 12 head coaching jobs come open this offseason, with the New York Liberty and Phoenix Mercury both parting ways with their coaches in order to head in a new direction.
On Saturday, we learned what direction that may be for the Liberty, as Spurs assistant and former WNBA legend Becky Hammon is apparently a top candidate for the job and the interest between the two is mutual, per Shams Charania and Chantel Jennings of The Athletic. Maybe more interesting is that the Liberty aren’t alone in pursuing Hammon, but the other team is not the Mercury. Instead, it’s the Las Vegas Aces, who currently employ Bill Laimbeer as their head coach, raising plenty of eyebrows when the report dropped.
Apparently, the plan would be for Laimbeer to move into a different role with the Aces should Hammon accept the job.
The Liberty head coaching job is currently open after New York and Walt Hopkins parted ways in early December. The Aces job is currently filled by Bill Laimbeer, who has coached in the WNBA since 2002. If Hammon were to accept the Aces job, Laimbeer would step aside and potentially fill a different organizational role, sources said.
Hammon spent 8 seasons with each franchise as a player — when the Aces were the San Antonio Stars/Silver Stars — so the connection to both is there. Las Vegas is a team that is ready to compete immediately, with a roster of stars that is a perennial title contender but has yet to reach that full potential. The Liberty, meanwhile, are a young team on the rise, making the leap into the playoffs last year but with room to grow and, maybe, a bit more patience in doing so.
We’ll find out sooner than later if Hammon decides to make the leap to the head of the bench back in the WNBA, as the report indicates a decision would be expected by the January free agency period. Hammon has been a rumored candidate for some NBA head coaching jobs, most publicly the Portland opening this past summer, and it seems like only a matter of time before she takes a head job in either league.