Former San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan has decided to step away from his position as a full-time assistant coach, and assistant coach Mitch Johnson is being promoted to replace him, the team announced Thursday.
Duncan, part of the Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2020 class, spent last season on coach Gregg Popovich’s staff. However, he did not join the Spurs in the Orlando, Florida, bubble for the NBA’s restart, remaining in San Antonio to help LaMarcus Aldridge rehabilitate from shoulder surgery.
Popovich frequently credited Duncan for being a key factor in creating and maintaining the culture that helped the Spurs win five NBA championships. Duncan spent his entire 19-year career in San Antonio, earning 15 All-Star appearances, two MVPs, three Finals MVPs and a Rookie of the Year award.
The first three years after Duncan’s retirement, he was not an official member of the Spurs’ coaching staff but was a frequent visitor to the team’s practice facility. After Duncan agreed to become an assistant coach, Popovich indicated that he did not anticipate that the all-time great would have a lengthy tenure on the bench.
“Something tells me it’s not going to be his passion for life, but he’s going to be great this year,” Popovich said at the Spurs’ media day before last season.
Johnson was named an assistant coach with the Spurs last year after three seasons as an assistant coach for the Austin Spurs, the team’s G League affiliate, whom he helped guide to the 2018 championship.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.