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Becky Hammon to coach Las Vegas Aces on record WNBA deal

(David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Becky Hammon is ending 2021 with a bang, closing in on a landmark five-year deal to become the next head coach of the Las Vegas Aces. Hammon’s contract with the Aces would make her the highest-paid head coach in the WNBA, according to multiple reports.

An assistant coach with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, Hammon plans to finish the season with the team, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Current Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer is expected to step aside and could assume a front office or advisory role with the organization, The Athletic has reported.

Hammon’s deal with the Aces comes after she was reportedly in talks with the Las Vegas franchise and the New York Liberty about their head coaching jobs. She played for both teams during her 16-year WNBA career. The former guard hinted at return to the WNBA earlier this month, telling LaChina Robinson during an interview for the BreakThrough Summit that her “doors are open” in regards to the Liberty job.

Hammon retired from her playing career in 2014 as a six-time WNBA All-Star. She spent eight years with the Liberty and eight with the San Antonio Stars before taking a position on Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff. Hammon made history when she became the first woman ever to serve as a head coach in the NBA Summer League, and she helped lead San Antonio to an NBA championship in 2015. In 2015, the Liberty honored her as a member of their “Ring of Honor,” which recognizes players who made significant contributions to the franchise. The Stars retired her jersey in 2016 and the Aces followed suit in 2021.

In 2018, Hammon became the first woman to interview for an NBA head coaching position when she was considered for the Milwaukee Bucks’ job. Since then, the Orlando Magic and Portland Trail Blazers have also interviewed Hammon during their respective searches for a head coach.

Many had tabbed Hammon as Popovich’s successor with the Spurs when he retired. Now, she’ll step into a new role less than 48 hours before WNBA free agency begins.

The Aces have three players under contract heading into 2022: Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum and Dearica Hamby. A’ja Wilson, the 2020 WNBA MVP, will be a restricted free agent. It’s likely the Aces will match any offers other teams make in order to keep their star. Liz Cambage and Angel McCoughtry are both unrestricted free agents, meaning Hammon and the Aces’ front office will have many decisions to make to shape their roster and contend for a championship in 2022.