Having been hired as the head coach of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces back in December, Spurs assistant Becky Hammon finished the regular season with San Antonio, but left the team this week, head coach Gregg Popovich confirmed before Wednesday’s play-in game vs. the Pelicans.
“She had to go,” Popovich said, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “They had the draft on Monday and camp is going to start. She has to get ready. That’s not a good thing for us.”
When the Spurs’ season came to an end with a loss in New Orleans on Wednesday, the focus shifted to Popovich’s own future. He hasn’t offered any hints about how much longer he’ll coach the Spurs and told reporters it was “inappropriate” to ask about his plans immediately after the club’s season ended on Wednesday.
According to veteran reporter Marc Stein (Twitter link), some people in Spurs circles believe the 73-year-old will coach the team for at least one more season, but they all acknowledge that only Popovich knows for sure.
In a column for The Express-News, Mike Finger writes that when Popovich does decide to call it a career, he’ll probably only make a brief announcement and retire immediately rather than embarking on a year-long farewell tour. But, like everyone else, Finger isn’t sure if that will happen this spring, or a year or two down the road.
Here’s more on the Spurs:
- Asked after Wednesday’s game about his upcoming restricted free agency, Lonnie Walker said he’s “hopeful to be back,” but indicated he’ll leave those conversations up to his representatives (Twitter link via Matthew Tynan). Walker is San Antonio’s only major free agent this summer — their other four FAs are either coming off two-way contracts (D.J. Stewart Jr., Robert Woodard II) or spent most of the season on two-way deals (Joe Wieskamp, Devontae Cacok).
- Although the Spurs have missed the playoffs for three straight seasons, this will likely be the first year since 1997 that they’ll have a top-10 pick, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Their first-rounder will almost certainly land at No. 9 or 10 if it doesn’t move into the top four. The Spurs can’t expect to do as well as they did in ’97 (when they drafted Tim Duncan), but that pick should give them a chance to land a cornerstone player, and they’ll also control two other 2022 first-rounders, from Toronto and Boston.
- In his preview of the team’s offseason, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) identifies rebounding as one of the Spurs’ biggest needs and explores their cap situation. Outside of Walker’s free agency, San Antonio also faces an important decision on Keldon Johnson, who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension.