Being an assistant with the Warriors prepared Steve Nash for his next gig — The San Antonio Spurs could do the same with franchise star Tim Duncan.
More so than ever, former players are being entrusted with the chance to take over head coaching duties. Few individuals in the world can compare their basketball knowledge to the all-time great players. The greatest case of this broke yesterday when Hall of Famer Steve Nash, a thorn in the side of San Antonio Spurs fans everywhere, was announced as the Brooklyn Nets’ head coach.
Nash is one of the greatest basketball minds of all-time. His understanding of the game made him an ultimate floor general, improving every player that shared the court with him by putting them in positions to succeed with his methodical playmaking. In many respects, his playstyle aligned very well with the strategy that head coach Gregg Popovich implements.
While filling in as an assistant with the Golden State Warriors, Nash built a relationship with Nets star Kevin Durant. This played dividends in the signing, but there’s more to it than that. Having a player of Nash’s caliber as a coach adds a level of trust from a player’s standpoint that you can’t get with a more traditional coach. It’s part of why the San Antonio Spurs may look to promote Tim Duncan down the line.
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If the Spurs go star hunting and land someone notable in 2021, that player will be signing to join this organization. In the meanwhile, the Spurs could lose the expected heir to Popovich’s throne in Becky Hammon. The next logical person to step into the head coach role when Popovich retires is Duncan; so long as he’s willing to do it. That’s a demanding job that Duncan may not ultimately want — Though it’s been reported that Nash had been resisting head coaching jobs himself.
If Nash thrives in his role, it can easily open a pathway for Duncan to step into the head coaching position in San Antonio. At this point, it’s more of a contingency plan than anything. Duncan could easily assume head coaching duties for a year or two before handing the clipboard to an assistant being groomed for the job. However, he’s got the basketball IQ and leadership qualities to make for a great head coach.
There is a strong enough infrastructure in San Antonio’s organization to support a new head coach. Filling Popovich’s shoes would be weird until he realizes that Pop is only a phone call away.
Watching this play out will be extremely interesting, but the stock is rising in the camp of Popovich being succeeded by the man who he built a dynasty with — The Big Fundamental.