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Duncan returns to Spurs as assistant coach

SAN ANTONIO – The Spurs made a splash Monday afternoon with a simple five-step press release.

As expected, the club announced that assistant coach Will Hardy would move from behind the bench to a front row seat.

But the everyday movement was overshadowed by this shock: Tim Duncan returns to the team as an assistant coach.

"It is only fitting that after I earned my loyalty 19 years as Tim Duncan's assistant, he returns the favorite," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich in the release.

Duncan, the largest franchise player and the greatest power forward in the NBA story, retired in the summer of 2016 after leading the Spurs to five NBA titles.

Since time immemorial, Duncan has called a career as a frequent visitor to the Spurs training facility, where he has trained with the players both during and after training.

Popovich's staff were left shorthanded by Ettore Messina and Ime Udoka left Spurs in the off-season to take jobs with the Philadelphia 76ers and an Italian team.

The movements announced on Monday probably mean that Becky Hammon, in yet another groundbreaking features, becomes Popovich's No. 1 assistant, a position previously held by Messina.

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