USA Basketball assistant coach Monty Williams has been told he has a job waiting for him with the San Antonio Spurs next season, and he is expected to accept, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN that Williams — who left the Oklahoma City Thunder’s bench in February after the tragic death of his wife, Ingrid — has been urged by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to take as much of a role with the organization as he feels comfortable for the 2016-17 campaign.
The specifics of what role Williams would fill and how much time he could commit have not yet been determined, but sources say San Antonio has opened the door to either a coaching and player-development role or a front office position (or a hybrid), depending on what he prefers.
One source close to Williams told ESPN that the 44-year-old “absolutely” intends to be a head coach in the league again after his expected stint with the Spurs. The source also said numerous teams, including Oklahoma City, have made similar offers to Williams for next season.
Williams’ in-laws live in San Antonio and have been assisting him with the couple’s five children in the wake of Ingrid Williams’ death in a Feb. 10 collision in which a car crossed over onto the wrong side of the road and struck her vehicle head-on.
The children also have been traveling with Williams during Team USA’s domestic stops on the road to the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The team has played exhibition games in Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Oakland, California; and Chicago entering the final warm-up game in Houston against Nigeria on Monday.
The start of USA Basketball’s preparations for the Rio Olympics on July 18 in Las Vegas marked Williams’ return to the sport after five months away in the wake of the accident. In a SportsCenter interview with Hannah Storm that aired Friday, Williams said he’s “so juiced up and ready to get back into it again.”
“I’ve only had peace about a few things,” Williams told Storm. “I knew I had to take care of my kids and stop coaching, but also knew that I wanted to be a part of USA Basketball, because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
“I can’t wait to get back and start coaching. I wouldn’t even think that if I didn’t know, one, my wife would want me to. My kids talk about it all the time. And there have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back.”
Last season was Williams’ first as the lead assistant in Oklahoma City under Thunder coach Billy Donovan. Williams previously posted a record of 173-221 in five seasons as head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans. After the Thunder’s seven-game exit to Golden State in the Western Conference finals this postseason, Donovan confirmed that Williams would not be returning to the Thunder bench.
Williams got his start in coaching under Popovich as a Spurs intern in 2004-05 before making his debut as an assistant coach with the Portland Trail Blazers.
“I can’t wait to get back and start coaching. … There have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back.”
Monty Williams, in SportsCenter interview with Hannah Storm
Reflecting on the accident that claimed his wife’s life, Williams told Storm, “I got the call that nobody wants to get. And I knew when I was talking to my daughter, because she answered the phone, I knew at that moment that my life was going to change. I can’t explain it, but I knew that everything was going to be different. I didn’t know what was going on at the hospital; I just knew that my life was going to change. I don’t know why, I can’t explain it. I just felt that in my heart like this phone call was different.
“It’s one of those things you never get rid of. You never forget where you were. You never forget what you were doing. It’s the phone call you don’t want anybody to ever get. Certainly [it] could’ve broken me to the point of quitting. But God and his graciousness has given me the strength and good people to help us go forward.”
Williams also said during the interview that he still tries to communicate with his wife as a means of coping with the grief.
“Yeah, I still text her, and it’s not like I know she’s going to answer — I know she’s not going to answer — but it’s just part of what I do. I’ll go outside at night and I’ll just look up in the sky and just start talking to her,” he said. “When you’ve been with somebody for 26 years and married for 20, you would have to just be around us to know what we were like. So I find myself doing everything that I can that I knew she would do.
“Especially with the kids, because she was the one I could bounce my life off of and she wasn’t afraid to tell me the truth. The reality is we live in a world that’s filled with stuff, and quitting is not an option. It’s just life. You have to be able to get up, face your flaws, and just whatever it is, a step, an inch. You just gotta keep moving forward.”
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Saad Yousuf of ESPN Radio in Dallas (103.3 FM) contributed to this report.