Duncan back with Spurs as assistant

Published 7:25 pm Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Tim Duncan is back with the San Antonio Spurs, this time as an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich.

Duncan, the Spurs’ all-time leader in points, rebounds and blocked shots — and the only player to be on all five of San Antonio’s NBA championship teams — officially returned to the franchise Monday. The Spurs, per their usual style, made the announcement in a very understated way, not even putting Duncan’s name in the headline of the news release.

“It is only fitting, that after I served loyally for 19 years as Tim Duncan’s assistant, that he returns the favor,” Popovich said in the release.

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Duncan didn’t even get top billing in the announcement. That went to Will Hardy, who will be taking on an expanded role as one of the Spurs’ assistant coaches. Hardy has been with the Spurs since 2010, working his way up from the video room at first.

“Will Hardy is a talented, young basketball mind who has earned a great deal of respect from everyone in the organization thanks to his knowledge, spirit and personality,” Popovich said.

The entirety of the Spurs’ description of Duncan in the release was this: “Duncan, a 1997 Wake Forest graduate, played 19 seasons with the Spurs before retiring in the summer of 2016.” No mention of his rings, his 15 All-Star nods, his three NBA Finals MVP awards, his two NBA MVP awards or anything else.

Duncan retired from playing three years ago, but has worked at times with San Antonio’s post players. He has long been one of Popovich’s favorites, even going back to 1997 in the days leading up to San Antonio taking Duncan with the No. 1 overall pick in that year’s draft.

Popovich went to the Virgin Islands before that draft to get to know Duncan, and was immediately sold.

“We lived on the beach for a few days and we swam and we talked,” Popovich said at Duncan’s retirement ceremony. “From that moment I knew he was a special individual because he basically talked about everything but basketball. And we’ve been the recipients of that intelligence and that outlook on life since he’s walked in here.”

Duncan’s hiring and Hardy’s expanded role will help the Spurs replace former assistants Ettore Messina and Ime Udoka, who left earlier this offseason for new jobs. Becky Hammon and Chip Engelland are also returning as Spurs assistants.


WASHINGTON (AP) — Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard is losing his interim tag as part of an organizational restructuring that includes hires from outside the NBA.

Changes announced Monday are part of the new leadership team for Monumental Basketball, a fledgling collective composed of the Wizards, Washington Mystics, Capital City Go-Go and Wizards District Gaming. Sheppard, a 25-year veteran of the NBA, had been serving as the Wizards’ interim GM after president Ernie Grunfeld was fired late in the regular season, overseeing the team’s draft and free agency.

Among the new hires is 43-year-old Sashi Brown, executive vice president of football operations for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns for about two years before being fired in December 2017. Brown, who has a law degree from Harvard and also worked for the Jacksonville Jaguars, will serve as chief planning and operations officer for Monumental Basketball.

Ted Leonsis, chairman and CEO of the new group, announced the changes. Leonsis says the goal is to build a leadership brain trust with deep Wizards and NBA experience and with sports professionals from inside and outside the NBA in an effort to adapt “to an ever-increasing competitive environment.”

“We broke the mold a little bit,” he said. “We don’t know if it’s the final answer.”

Daniel Medina will serve as chief of athlete care and performance. Medina spent over a decade with soccer powerhouse FC Barcelona as team physician and later became the team’s deputy director of sports science and medical department, involved in evaluating and researching new products designed to aid in athlete health and performance. He comes to the Wizards after serving as vice president of athletic care for the Philadelphia 76ers the past two years.

A new athlete development and engagement department will be led by former Georgetown men’s basketball coach John Thompson III, who will work with Sashia Jones, promoted from vice president of community relations to vice president of player engagement. Brett Greenberg, formerly the vice president of basketball analytics/salary cap management who has been with the Wizards for a decade, was promoted to assistant general manager for strategy and analytics. Jones has been with the team for 18 years.

“We have almost 50 athletes and we have to put them in a position to maximize their potential,” Thompson said. “We’re not four separate entities. This is one organization.”

Thompson served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Men’s National Team at the 2019 FIBA World Cup and also was a member of the Commission on College Basketball chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that examined Division I men’s basketball and its relationship with the NBA.