Las Vegas Aces hire Natalie Williams as general manager

Natalie Williams (24) will join former teammate Jennifer Azzi in Las Vegas. (Photo by Robert Mora/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Las Vegas Aces have hired Natalie Williams to be the team’s next general manager after Dan Padover was hired away by the Atlanta Dream, the team announced Friday.

Williams is a four-time WNBA All-Star and U.S. Olympic gold medalist. She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

She played with the Las Vegas franchise during its time in Utah as the Starzz. Drafted third overall by Utah, she averaged 18.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per game her rookie season. In four seasons with the Starzz, she averaged 15.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.

Over her seven-year WNBA career, she averaged 13.1 points. She also added 8.3 rebounds per game, which still ranks seventh in league history.

“Natalie is one of the greatest players in the history of our franchise and our league, and has dedicated herself to evaluating and developing the next generation of talent throughout her post-playing career,” Aces president Nikki Fargas said in a statement. “We’ve gotten to know her very well over the last year since we launched our alumni initiative, and couldn’t be happier to welcome her to Las Vegas as the lead architect of the Aces.”

Williams joins Becky Hammon in returning to the team in a different capacity. Hammon, who played for the franchise during its time in San Antonio, was announced as the replacement for Bill Laimbeer at head coach in December.

Jennifer Azzi, who Williams played with in Utah, is the Aces’ chief business development officer.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to return to the WNBA and to be a part of the Las Vegas Aces family!” Williams said in a statement.

“Thank you to owner Mark Davis for being completely invested in the success of the Las Vegas Aces and the women in the WNBA. I look forward to doing my part to help the Aces put an incredible brand of basketball on the court. It’s time to bring a championship to Las Vegas!”