Former player Udoka joins coaching staff

By Jeff McDonald

Ime Udoka, who played parts of three seasons in two stints with the Spurs from 2007-11, will return to the team as an assistant coach. The Spurs announced the hiring Tuesday.

In a press release, coach Gregg Popovich praised Udoka’s “outstanding work ethic” and “natural inclination to teach.”

Udoka, 35, said the Spurs’ history of producing head coaches from their staff drew him to the job.

“You see their family tree all over the league,” Udoka said by phone from Los Angeles, where he was preparing to board a flight to San Antonio. “It’s a great opportunity. You know they’ll help you develop.”

A hard-nosed, defense-first small forward, Udoka logged 181 games for the Spurs, including 21 in the postseason. He most recently appeared in 20 games during the 2010-11 campaign that was his last as a player.

Though Popovich lost two assistants this summer — with Jacque Vaughn landing the head-coaching position in Orlando and Don Newman leaving for the lead assistant’s gig in Washington — Udoka is expected to be the Spurs’ lone coaching-staff addition this offseason.

The spot Vaughn occupied on Popovich’s bench was created especially for him when he joined the club before the 2009-10 campaign and is likely to remain unfilled.

Layden a front-office candidate: The Spurs also have two vacancies to fill in their front office, with R.C. Buford aides Danny Ferry and Dennis Lindsey having departed for general manager jobs in Atlanta and Utah, respectively.

Jazz assistant Scott Layden, a former GM in Utah and New York, has been given permission to interview with the Spurs for one of the openings.

The Salt Lake City-based Deseret News reported Layden’s meeting with Buford and Popovich was scheduled for Monday night in San Antonio, though it was not immediately clear if it took place as planned.

Anderson to Atlanta: The Hawks extended a training-camp invitation to former Spurs swingman James Anderson. The 23-year-old, drafted 20th overall by the Spurs in 2010, appeared in 87 games in two seasons, averaging 11.5 minutes.

A former Big 12 Player of the Year at Oklahoma State, Anderson became an unrestricted free agent in July as the Spurs declined to pick up his third-year contract option.
Twitter: @JMcDonald_SAEN

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