San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Tim Duncan will not be on the bench with Gregg Popovich this season, Marc Stein of The New York Times reported. Duncan is stepping away from coaching full-time. It’s unclear why Duncan won’t be coaching this season and whether or not he’ll return after 2020-21. You never want to assume, but one can gather that the Covid-19 pandemic still being prevalent may have something to do with it. We’ll keep an eye out for updates or an announcement from San Antonio.
UPDATE: Nov. 12 — The Spurs have promoted Mitch Johnson to Duncan’s position on the bench. They’ve also named Darius Songaila an assistant coach to fill the void left by Duncan.
The Spurs say assistant coach Mitch Johnson has been promoted. Johnson fills the position vacated by Tim Duncan. Additionally, Darius Songaila has been elevated to assistant coach.— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) November 12, 2020
Duncan retired from the NBA in 2016 after one of the best careers in the League’s history. He won five championships over 19 seasons in San Antonio, making 15 All-Star teams, 15 All-NBA teams and 15 All-Defensive teams. Duncan took some time off before joining the Spurs’ coaching staff in 2019. It looked as if Duncan may be getting groomed to take over for Pop once he decides to retire. Now, that may not be the case with Duncan stepping away from coaching. It’s understandable, however, if Duncan’s reasoning is to stay safe during the ongoing pandemic.
Becky Hammon, Will Hardy, Chip Engelland and Mitch Johnson remain under Popovich as assistant coaches heading into 2020-21. We’ll see if the Spurs name a replacement for Duncan before the NBA Draft and free agency begins next week.