This past Monday (July 22nd), the San Antonio Spurs announced the additions of Will Hardy and 5-time NBA Champion Tim Duncan to Gregg Popovich's bench as assistant coaches.
Duncan's former teammate Manu Ginobili was quick to react:
Awesome news! So happy for him!- Manu Ginobili (@manuginobili) July 23, 2019
Always knew Will Hardy was gonna make it to the front of the bench! 😜 https://t.co/PWI6adr4Ck
A day after the official release by the franchise, New York Times' Marc Stein reported that Duncan's spot on the coach's bench was first offered to Manu Ginobili.
Here's an excerpt from his most recent newsletter detailing the same:
The assistant coaching concept, I'm told, was also broached with Ginobili, who has only been retired for one season and was apparently not quite ready to dive back in. But then Duncan volunteered - and happily took second billing to Will Hardy in the Spurs' official news release bearing this predictably saucy headline: "Spurs Announce Assistant Coach Updates."
Manu Ginobili had announced his retirement in August of 2018, calling the curtains on a 23-year professional basketball career that included 16 seasons in the NBA (all with the Spurs).
Maybe the Argentine could join Pop's staff later but for now, as per Stein, Duncan was happy to fill in. More from Stein's newsletter:
Yet I also heard more than once in Monday's conversations that this, amazingly, was Duncan's idea for the most part. He knew Popovich was struggling to fill the last open spot on his bench staff and made himself available because he sensed that Popovich needed him.
Popovich's previous assistants Ime Udoka and Ettore Messina have taken up jobs elsewhere.
While Udoka, who spent seven seasons on Pop's staff as an assistant, took up the lead assistant position with the Philadelphia 76ers, Ettore Messina, who spent five seasons with the Spurs, is in Italy as the head coach and president of basketball operations for Olimpia Milano.
Popovich's sideline assistants now consist of Becky Hammon, Will Hardy and Tim Duncan.
The 2019-20 NBA season would be Popovich's 24th as the head coach of the Spurs.