After three years of retirement, Tim Duncan is returning to the NBA as an assistant coach. Naturally, he’ll be filling that role with the San Antonio Spurs, the team he played for in all 19 of his NBA seasons. The Spurs quietly announced on Monday that Duncan would be returning to the franchise as an assistant for long-time head coach Gregg Popovich, who coached Duncan his entire career.
“It is only fitting, that after I served loyally for 19 years as Tim Duncan’s assistant, that he returns the favor,” Popovich said jokingly in the team’s press release.
In somewhat fitting fashion for Duncan, one of the most understated legends in NBA history, the Spurs gave Duncan second-billing in the press release. The top story was about assistant Will Hardy having an expanded role on the coaching staff next season. In fact, the team’s press release didn’t even mention the fact that Duncan is a 15-time All-Star and was a member of all five championship teams in franchise history.
Nevertheless, Duncan figures to be a good addition to the San Antonio coaching staff. He spent his entire career playing under Popovich and should know have a good understanding of the veteran coach’s strategy and tendencies. He also brings with him 19 years of experience playing in the NBA and a strong understanding of basketball fundamentals. After all, he was known in his playing days as “The Big Fundamental.”
Hiring Duncan and expanding Hardy’s role were necessary after former Spurs assistants Ime Udoka and Ettore Messina left for other jobs earlier this off-season. However, the Spurs should be in good shape with Duncan joining a coaching staff that also includes Chip Engelland and Becky Hammon, who are staying with the team. Despite Duncan’s lack of experience as a coach, San Antonio couldn’t have possibly found someone with more impressive credentials as a player to serve as their new assistant head coach.