The Toronto Raptors have finally kicked their head coach search into high gear after the firing of Nick Nurse. Adrian Wojnarowski came out swinging by publishing a list of eight names that Toronto will likely show interest in as they try to find the right person for the job.
The list had a good mix of former head coaches like Kenny Atkinson, universally well-regarded assistants like Charles Lee and Chris Quinn, and some out-of-the-box names like Jordi Fernandez and Darko Rakajovic. One name in particular, who isn’t even in the NBA now, may have been the most interesting piece of this unfinished puzzle.
The Raptors received permission to discuss their coaching position with Becky Hammon, who is currently the coach of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces following a long stint as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs. Hammon has been interviewed for NBA jobs in the past.
The Raptors would make history if they chose to hire Hammon, as she would be the first female head coach in major North American sports history. Making history would be nice, but would the marriage between Hammon and the Raptors be the perfect fit Masai Ujiri wants?
Will the Toronto Raptors hire Becky Hammon?
From a basketball standpoint, Hammon has a resume that is worthy of eventually earning a head coaching nod. Learning at the foot of Gregg Popovich, who has one of the largest and most successful coaching trees in the league, could set her up for success.
The problem with the Hammon-Raptors pairing might be the situation she would be walking into. The Raptors are going to be on a knife edge all season long, with every loss going to feel like a gut punch. With Hammon already in charge of a WNBA juggernaut, this job might not be as appealing.
Going to a rebuilding team, who could give her time to implement her system, might be more appealing to her than the powder keg that Toronto is. This line of thinking could be applied to any first-year coach, irrespective of gender.
If she isn’t scared by the situation, the Raptors should try to get a deal done with the established coaching star. If they don’t, someone else will make history soon after them.
Hammon would be a groundbreaking, glass-ceiling-shattering move for the Raptors, but the team wouldn’t be making this move to etch their name in history. Hammon has a longer resume of NBA success than many top assistants to go along with her WNBA jewelry, making her a viable candidate for this position if the situation around it interests her.