Former San Antonio Spurs player and current assistant coach Ime Udoka is set to interview for a head coaching job over the weekend.
The 41-year-old joined Gregg Popovich on the sideline for the silver and black in 2012 after spending three seasons as a Spur over the course of his playing career. Udoka is considered a top-candidate to replace Pop once he decides to hang up the clipboard, but the legendary head coach’s recent contract extension only prolongs Udoka’s chances of taking over the mantle.
Udoka would replace Larry Drew, a distinguished coach that spent five seasons with the organization. Drew and the Cavaliers amicably parted ways once his contract expired at the end of the 2018-19 season, paving the way for Cleveland to find a new leader for their young core.
The Cavaliers finished with the third-worst record in the NBA this season at 19-63 and are projected the third overall pick in the upcoming 2019 NBA Draft. This would enable Udoka to take over an organization with All-Star caliber talent in champion power forward Kevin Love while raising a new generation of Cavaliers.
Point guard Collin Sexton learned from Spurs legend Avery Johnson at Alabama and proved himself as a capable scorer and leader, while small forward Cedi Osman continues to come into his own as a scorer and playmaker.
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San Antonio would certainly feel the loss of one of their most recognizable assistant coaches. Udoka provides a gateway for players to learn the system and culture of the team, considering he’s experienced it both as a player and as a coach.
His presence was influential in recruiting the Spurs’ most valued big man in LaMarcus Aldridge. The two played together as rookies in Portland and have built a strong relationship since. With rumblings of Aldridge pondering a return to the Pacific Northwest once his contract with the Spurs ends, losing Udoka could have a ripple effect on the franchise’s star player.
Assistant coach James Borrego secured a job as head coach of the Charlotte Hornets in the 2018 offseason, bringing Spurs legend Tony Parker with him to the Eastern Conference. Should he move on to his next opportunity, Udoka will join a long list of distinguished coaches to find head coaching jobs after learning under Gregg Popovich.
While he would certainly be missed on the Spurs’ sideline, Udoka is a capable coach that could do a great job with the proper support and talent.