The Philadelphia 76ers have hired former Duke and WNBA star Lindsey Harding as a full-time scout for next season.
Harding, the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA in 2007, is only the second former WNBA player to be hired for a full-time scouting position with an NBA team. Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Jenny Boucek is the other, having done advanced scouting work for the Seattle SuperSonics in 2006.
“I think when you have this goal in mind, your gender shouldn’t even matter,” Harding told ESPN. “It should be about if you can do it, if you’re good, you’re experienced, if you know what you’re doing and what you’re talking about.”
Harding, 34, officially retired as a player in 2017 after nine years in the WNBA. She spent last season in the NBA’s Basketball Operations Associates Program. After completing the program, she interviewed with several NBA teams, looking for a role that would allow her to learn and grow as both a future front-office executive and maintain a connection to coaching.
“I knew I wanted to work with the team. That’s the one thing that you miss most from playing — being part of a team, competing, and trying to win a championship,” she said. “That’s always been the goal probably since I picked up the ball when I was 13.”
Ultimately, she thinks her future is in the front office.
“I would love to be in the front office and really understand how to put a team together,” she said. “I still love being on the floor and having the opportunity to coach. But I really just wanted to get my foot in the door.”
Harding joins Boucek, San Antonio assistant coach Becky Hammon and LA Clippers assistant coach Natalie Nakase as former women’s basketball players who have successfully made the transition to the NBA.
She said Hammon has urged her to make this leap for several years. Four years ago, Harding worked as an assistant on the Toronto Raptors‘ summer league coaching staff, while Hammon was the head coach of the Spurs’ summer league team. The two point guards bonded over their shared experiences and ambitions.
“I played against Becky for years,” Harding said. “During this last season, especially working in the front office [program] and going to games, I spent some time talking to her. She was always telling me, ‘You need to come. You need to come. We need more women here.'” Harding said that experience with the Raptors was pivotal in her decision to pursue an NBA job after her playing career.
“I think I wanted to know what was really the difference in women’s basketball compared to men’s, and how the players would respond to me,” she said. “What I realized was that basketball is basketball. The game is stronger, the game is faster in that way. But I found there was so much, not only that I had learned, but that I could also teach.
“It was just a great experience for me, and that’s why I felt real comfortable to be able to continue.” Sixers head coach and interim general manager Brett Brown said he was blown away by Harding’s basketball IQ when he met her.
“Lindsey has quickly become one of the game’s bright young minds in basketball operations,” Brown said. “Having graduated from the NBA’s Basketball Operations Associates Program last season, Lindsey is applying the same grit and basketball IQ she used as a player in her move to the front office. We look forward to the work Lindsey will do to help grow our program and further solidify a culture of winning.
“It’s no secret how much I value the culture we’ve built in Philadelphia and how much a family-like atmosphere means to our program. Lindsey is a leader, and she is a welcomed addition to the 76ers family. I look forward to working with her.”