The Portland Trail Blazers are looking for a new head coach to lead Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and company, after firing Terry Stotts following the team's elimination from the NBA Playoffs. Two women have been named among the "top candidates" for the job: San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon and South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley.
When a woman finally breaks the glass ceiling of head coach in a men's pro sports league, most expect it to be Hammon. She has been named as a candidate for some NBA jobs in the past, and her impressive resume grows by the year. The six-time WNBA All-Star has been an assistant on Gregg Popovich's Spurs staff since 2014.
Staley is a new name for NBA jobs like this. She is one of the greatest WNBA players of all time, and has proven herself to be an elite college basketball coach, leading the Gamecock women's team to the 2017 national championship, and two other Final Fours, including the 2021 season. South Carolina has emerged as a true women's college basketball powerhouse under her tutelage.
According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, the two groundbreaking women are on a list that also features Los Angeles Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, Brooklyn Nets assistant Mike D'Antoni, and Spurs executive Brent Barry.
Becky Hammon has also been floated as an option for the Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic. Charania reports that she will "soon interview" for both the Trail Blazers and Magic jobs.
Jason Kidd was the early leading candidate for the Portland Trail Blazers job but withdrew his candidacy, despite getting a very public endorsement from Lillard, perhaps the most important person for Portland to please with this hire. Lillard has also praised Billups, a former championship-winning point guard who is in his first year as an NBA assistant.
It is an interesting mix of candidates, with some potentially groundbreaking names like Hammon and Dawn Staley, a popular former star in Billups, and one of the most experienced people possible in D'Antoni. It will be fascinating to see which direction Portland takes this incredibly important hire, as it looks to get over the hump after years of early playoff flameouts.