NBA’s Blazers have permission to speak to Gamecocks’ Dawn Staley about head coach opening

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(Columbia, SC) — Dawn Staley was busy the night of June 12, coaching Team USA to a 102-39 win in the preliminary round of the FIBA AmeriCup tournament.

That didn’t stop folks from discussing her future.

Shams Charania, senior lead NBA insider for The Athletic, tweeted during Staley’s game that she is one of the top candidates for the open head coach position of the Portland Trail Blazers. Sources at USC have confirmed that the Blazers have asked for and received permission to speak to Staley about the opening.

Other candidates the Blazers are considering, Charania said, are L.A. Clippers assistant coach Chauncey Billups, Brooklyn Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni, San Antonio Spurs executive Brent Barry and Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon. Hammon is a longtime assistant coach, the second female assistant coach in NBA history (USC associate head coach Lisa Boyer was the first) and became the first woman to be an NBA head coach in December when she took the reins after Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected from a game.

Hammon will also interview for the open head coaching job with the Orlando Magic, Charania said.

Staley was in Puerto Rico on June 12 and was set to be there through June 19, assuming Team USA reaches the medal round. It’s the first leg of a busy summer, as Staley is head coach of the U.S. Olympic women’s team and will start training camp for that around July 12 before heading to Las Vegas for exhibition games and then the Tokyo Olympics beginning July 23.

Her interest in the Blazers job is unknown. Yet she did say less than two months ago that coaching anywhere but in the women’s college game didn’t appeal to her.

“No ounce of me really wants to coach outside of college,” Staley said while wrapping up the Gamecocks’ Final Four season. “I don’t. I don’t know why my level of interest has never been to coach in the WNBA or to coach in the NBA or coach on the men’s (college) side. I don’t know why my competitiveness won’t allow me to go there.

“It may be because I just think there’s too much work to be done in our game. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, and I do think about making sure that the players that I coach on this level will take great care of the WNBA so it’s around another 25 years.”

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