Dawn Staley Rumors
Heading into this offseason, several NBA sources said the expectation was that most of the head coach openings could be filled by African Americans. According to NBA sources, the list of African American assistant coaches who interviewed for jobs included the Los Angeles Lakers’ Jason Kidd and Phil Handy, the Dallas Mavericks’ Jamahl Mosley, the Denver Nuggets’ Wes Unseld Jr., the Golden State Warriors’ Mike Brown, the Philadelphia 76ers’ Sam Cassell, the Milwaukee Bucks’ Darvin Ham and Charles Lee, the Brooklyn Nets’ Udoka and Jacque Vaughn, the Clippers’ Billups, the New Orleans Pelicans’ Teresa Weatherspoon and the Timberwolves’ David Vanterpool. Sources said Dawn Staley, USA Basketball women’s head coach and University of South Carolina women’s head coach, was another African American considered for NBA openings, but she was focused on the Olympics.
On the day USA Basketball released its roster for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the team’s coach, Dawn Staley, answered questions about a potential future job. The South Carolina Gamecocks women’s basketball head coach, leading Team USA on the Olympic stage for the first time next month, confirmed she has spoken with the Portland Trail Blazers about their head coaching position but didn’t divulge much. “I’ve talked to the Portland Trail Blazers, and that’s the extent of it,” she said Monday. “I’ve talked to them.”
The Trail Blazers have interviewed several candidates for the job, including Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley, Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni and Spurs vice president of basketball operations Brent Barry, sources said. Multiple members of that list are expected to be part of the final stage of interviews for the Trail Blazers.
The plan to look at making history with the first female head coach in the NBA is not unique to the Wizards. Though the Wizards are still putting their initial list of candidates together, several women have been mentioned for other vacancies like Spurs assistant Becky Hammon, Pelicans assistant Theresa Witherspoon, Duke head coach Kara Lawson and South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley.
Lillard, a six-time All-Star and face of the franchise, may not have the final say in who is chosen. But it’s prudent for Olshey to get his input as the Blazers make an important hire as Lillard enters the first year of his four-year extension in 2021-22. Allen wanted the list to include women candidates, and San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon will interview for the job, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about candidates. The Blazers also received permission to speak with South Carolina women’s coach Dawn Staley.
When we spoke, she made it clear she wasn’t campaigning for an N.B.A. job. She treasures her team at South Carolina, which she has led to three Final Fours since 2015 and a national title in 2017. “I come with a lot of credentials,” she said. “I surely have the confidence. I surely can stand in front of men and lead them. First-team All-Stars. M.V.P.s. I’m OK with that.”
The first woman will no doubt have plenty of supporters, she said. But there will also be knuckle-draggers who still believe that no matter what the sport, a woman cannot effectively lead male stars. “A lot of people would be out there, just waiting for you to make a mistake, waiting for you to be wrong,” she said. “There’s a whole dynamic that men, white or Black, just don’t have to think about. It’s a female thing. The expectation will be so much greater than the male coach. So much greater.”