Spurs assistant Becky Hammon during NBA game against Sixers
Aug 3, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, USA; Assistant coach Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Spurs looks on against the Philadelphia 76ers during the fourth quarter at Visa Athletic Center at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 03, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers surprisingly fired head coach Nate McMillan earlier this summer after yet another strong season resulted in a first-round playoff sweep. The move came shortly after the team signed him to an extension.

It’s rather clear that general manager Chad Buchanan and Co. are looking to change things up big time.

According to a recent report, that includes one big-name potential head coach.

Becky Hammon to interview for Pacers’ head coach job

“San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon and former Sacramento Kings and Memphis Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger are among more than a dozen candidates who are expected to participate in a first round of virtual interviews for the Indiana Pacers coaching job,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday.

To be clear, those Woj listed as potential head-coaching candidates boast a wide array of experience and prevous success. In addition to Joerger and Hammon, it’s a pretty strong list.

  • Will Hardy, Spurs assistant
  • Dan Craig, Heat assistant
  • Chris Quinn, Heat assistant
  • Jamahl Mosley, Mavericks assistant
  • Stephen Silas, Mavericks assistant
  • Darvin Ham, Bucks assistant
  • Charles Lee, Bucks assistant

Notice a theme here? Indiana is looking to pluck a top assistant from a group of respected NBA head coaches that includes Gregg Popovich, Erik Spoelstra, Rick Carlisle and Mike Budenholzer.

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Going after a top assistant has been the name of the game for teams searching for a new head coach in recent years. Obviously, Hammon fits that category.

Here’s why she makes sense for the Pacers.

Working under Gregg Popovich

  • It’s not a surprise that Hammon’s name has come up again. She has interviewed for head-coaching jobs in the past. Working wth the legendary Popovich since all the way back in 2014, she was previously being groomed to replace him.
  • During that time, Hammon has put in work with the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan. She has experience with high-profile players, and has received nothing but praise at every turn.

This is not simply about what would be an historical hire

  • Sure Hammon getting a head coaching job in the NBA would qualify as historic. The first female head coach in any of the four major North American professional sports leagues.
  • The NBA has also been more inclusive than other leagues. Given what we’re seeing today during the Black Lives Matter movement, that’s magnified even further.
  • Despite this, we’re not looking at a case of pandering or something that would stand out as a hire to create more inclusion.
  • Hammon has been a top candidate in the past. She’s widely respected as a basketball mind around the NBA. That can’t be lost on all of this.

Perfect fit wth the Pacers

  • Regardless of whether Victor Oladipo returns to Indiana next season, the team has a lot of young talent. Hammon could very well help take their games to the next level.
  • This includes All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis and embattled center Myles Turner. The Pacers saw Turner take a step back this past season and are relying on him as a franchise cornerstone in order to be taken seriously as a conference title contender.
  • Given Hammon’s work with other front-court stars in that of Aldridge, Leonard and Duncan, this seems to be a perfect fit.

Bottom line

No one candidate should be hired based on anything else outside of his/her qualifications and past experience.

Given what we’ve seen from Hammon over the past seven years in San Antonio, she’s among the most-experienced assistants being considered for Indiana’s head coach job. She’s also a perfect fit.

In and of itself, this makes her the best hire to replace Nate McMillan on the Pacers’ bench. It’s that simple.