Veteran big man Gorgui Dieng never formally announced his retirement as a player, but it sounds as if he has moved onto the next stage of his career. As Jeff McDonald details for The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required), Dieng is working with the Spurs as a basketball operations representative, a title the team created for him.
According to McDonald, Dieng splits his time between the front office and coaching staff, working with general manager Brian Wright in addition to mentoring young big men like Victor Wembanyama and Charles Bassey.
“I’m very free on what I’m doing,” Dieng said. “I’m in the front office learning and doing stuff. When they start practice, I come here and help the team. I’m here just to be around them and help.”
Dieng, who will turn 34 in January, appeared in a total of 628 regular season NBA games from 2013-23, averaging 7.3 points and 5.6 rebounds in 20.1 minutes per night for the Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Spurs, and Hawks. In 2022/23, he played in 31 games for San Antonio, providing some veteran frontcourt depth and serving as a leader in the locker room.
“Everyone around me knew I wanted to play 10 years and that was it,” Dieng said. “I always said that. When I reached 10, I said I’ve reached my goal. It was time to stop and try different stuff.”
Despite his stated desire to play just 10 years, Dieng was open to contract offers this past offseason, but didn’t generate much interest on the free agent market, McDonald reports.
The Senegalese forward/center, who has a house in San Antonio and spent some time at the team’s practice facility during the summer, approached Wright about joining the organization as an intern, according to McDonald, who says the team insisted on giving Dieng a formal position and a salary. Head coach Gregg Popovich and the Spurs’ players are happy to have him around.
“He’s a wonderful human being,” Popovich said. “He’s one of the all-time favorite teammates of everybody. He’s a great source of experience in the league, and anybody can talk to him.”
“He’s someone you can always talk to at any time,” Spurs guard Tre Jones agreed. “He is always open. I think just having that personal connection to everybody and having such good relationships with people, that’s what makes him who he is.”
For his part, Dieng says he’s “learning a lot of stuff” in his new role and that he’s especially enjoyed the work he’s doing in the Spurs’ front office. According to McDonald, Dieng said he can imagine himself one day becoming a team’s top basketball operations executive, but for now he’s happy to play a far more modest role in San Antonio and perhaps work his way up the ladder.
“The front office, it takes talent,” Dieng said. “It takes hard work. Us (players), we just play and go home. They put everything together.”