It’s not easy to replace what Tim Duncan gave the Spurs over his 20 years as a player and coach. But, San Antonio reportedly filled the 15-time All-Star’s former assistant coaching position on Thursday afternoon.
Assistant coach Mitch Johnson was promoted to Duncan’s former position. Player development assistant Darius Songaila was also upgraded to assistant coach. ESPN NBA insider Marc Spears reported the news on twitter.
The Spurs say assistant coach Mitch Johnson has been promoted. Johnson fills the position vacated by Tim Duncan. Additionally, Darius Songaila has been elevated to assistant coach.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) November 12, 2020
Johnson joined the Spurs sideline for the first time just last year. Before his NBA coaching career, the coach spent three years as an assistant for the Austin Spurs, helping lead them to a G-League title in 2018.
Songalia spent eight years as a player in the league, suiting up for five different organizations. The former NBA big man joined San Antonio’s video department in 2018.
This news came just one day following Duncan’s decision to retire from coaching on Wednesday.
After a three-year break following his retirement in 2016, The Big Fundamental rejoined his squad as the right-hand-man of his long-time coach Gregg Popovich. Duncan joined the coaching staff in 2019 to help the Spurs transition from the dynastic reign of the team’s former big four: Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and himself. It was never expected to be a long-term role.
The legendary forward stepped up as head coach for one game back in March of 2019 when Popovich was out for personal reasons. Duncan led San Antonio to a 104-103 victory over Charlotte, sending his head-coaching record to a perfect 1-0 on his career.
Though he’ll be off the full-time coaching staff moving forward, Duncan will return to his former role as a frequent attendee of Spurs practices as a player development coach.
As arguably the greatest power forward of all time and one of the most fundamentally sound players the game has ever seen, Duncan will continue to serve as a valuable asset in San Antonio for years to come.