Once the Olympics concluded, Jerry Colangelo and Gregg Popovich’s tenures as director and head coach of USA Basketball’s men’s national team came to an end as well. Colangelo, who took over in 2005, has been replaced by Grant Hill, who will bring the perspective of being a former USA Basketball player to the role as he looks to guide the program to continued success.
His first major task will be finding a coach to replace Popovich, who had a rough start with the World Cup in 2019 but guided the men’s squad to their fourth consecutive gold medal this summer in Tokyo. There are a number of names that have been connected as a possible replacement, and Hill will look to hire a new coach before the upcoming NBA season. As for what he’ll be looking for in a coach, he sat down recently with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated and explained what will go into his selection process.
“Someone who understands and has a healthy respect for the international game. The dynamics are a bit different in that environment than they are in the NBA regular season. You’re going to be dealing with some tough love of players, and being able to mentor them. That’ll check the boxes, if you will.
“Someone who can manage a locker room, who understands the international play, obviously can coach, and understands this isn’t over. Spending the last year just really studying the international game, it’s different. It’s a different game than our game, and understanding that and respecting that is vitally important and not just for the staff but for the players as well.”
Spears notes that the expectation is for an NBA coach with USA Basketball experience to be the selection, with Steve Kerr, Doc Rivers, Nate McMillan, Monty Williams, Tom Thibodeau, and Erik Spoelstra all fitting that criteria — as well as Jeff Van Gundy, who coached the men’s squad in Olympic qualifying tournaments to get them to Tokyo.
Hill mentions the differences in the international game on a number of occasions in the interview, and it’s clear that when he discusses the USA hoops job with potential coaches, he’ll be focusing a lot on their plan for how to get NBA stars quickly in rhythm despite those differences and the challenges that come with them.