The Las Vegas Aces earned their first WNBA championship title over the weekend under first year head coach Becky Hammon. It was a notable achievement for Hammon, who had spent the past eight seasons as an assistant coach with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. In her first head-coaching gig ever, she led the Aces to a regular season-best 26-10 record before Vegas went 8-2 in the postseason, culminating in a 3-1 series win over the Connecticut Sun.
It also fueled further speculation that Hammon, 45, could one day become the first woman to become a head coach at the NBA level. Hammon, a six-time WNBA All-Star, has long been considered a possible heir apparent to 73-year-old Spurs coach Gregg Popovich — but there might be more interest in Hammon after her impressive stint in Sin City, including an opportunity that may give her a starring role across California sports betting in the years to come.
Of course, Hammon could choose to continue her reign in Las Vegas and see what a star-studded cast — including two-time WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson — can accomplish in 2023 and beyond. But it’d be hard to turn down one of the 30 best jobs in basketball if a team came calling.
Which team might that be? We’re handicapping odds on which NBA team will eventually name Hammon its leader -- if it happens.
Which NBA Team Will Hire Hammon?
San Antonio Spurs -150 (60% probability)
The heavy favorite for multiple reasons: Popovich is the NBA’s oldest head coach by eight years and has gone to bat for Hammon as a future NBA head coach. Hammon is familiar with the organization, having been there for eight seasons (and serving as head coach for a single game in December 2020).
What’s more, the team is entering a rebuilding phase after trading Dejounte Murray this offseason, so any successor to Pop would have relatively low expectations. The Spurs are one of the most forward-thinking organizations in sports.
It wouldn’t surprise us if Hammon replaced Popovich in the next few seasons.
Sacramento Kings +500 (16.6% probability)
The Kings have actually hired three different women as assistant coaches, including current coach Lindsey Harding.
It’s clearly something that has been on the organization’s mind, and it also doesn’t hurt that they go through head coaches at an astonishing rate; since the start of the 2012-13 season, the Kings have hired and fired five coaches.
They currently have career retread Mike Brown beginning his first year in 2022, and he can’t be the long-term option.
Remember, if mobile sports betting is legalized in the state ahead of, or during, a hypothetical Hammon-Kings union, BetCalifornia will be the place for California sportsbook promos.
A Las Vegas Expansion Team +900 (10% probability)
Let’s think outside the box. There are significant rumblings that the NBA will soon announce two expansion teams, one in Las Vegas and one in Seattle. Those franchises will need head coaches, of course, and what better way to make a real splash than by hiring Hammon?
We expect her to continue her success in Las Vegas with the WNBA squad, and that familiarity with the city would certainly make the NBA transition that much easier.
Dallas Mavericks +1200 (7.7% probability)
The Mavericks currently have one woman on staff (Kristi Tolliver) and had previously hired another (Jenny Boucek) in 2018.
Mark Cuban is certainly a progressive owner who isn’t afraid to make a splash.
The issue here? Jason Kidd was outstanding in his first year with Dallas, leading Luka Doncic and the Mavs to an unlikely Western Conference Finals appearance. Kidd is the perfect head coach for Doncic, so we’re not sure there’ll be a vacancy in the near future.
Still, Dallas makes sense as a landing spot for Hammon given the Texas connection.
The Field +300 (25% probability)
There are 28 other teams (if you include the possible expansion franchises) that could be in the market for a new head coach in the next handful of seasons.
Life moves fast in the NBA (ask Brad Stevens) and Hammon could certainly wait to see how things play out in Las Vegas before making a potential jump.
That makes the field a solid play, assuming an opportunity opens and Hammon wants it, behind the obvious choice in the Spurs.
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