Gregg Popovich

Spurs Notes: DeRozan, Murray, Aldridge, Ginobili

Shooting guard DeMar DeRozan says he’s more motivated than he’s ever been in his career, as he told in a TV interview. DeRozan was highly agitated when the Raptors traded him away to the Spurs and while he claims he’s over the disappointment, he feels he has something to prove while moving to the Western Conference. “I treated my whole summer workout with that motivation, that chip on my shoulder. It’s making me more anxious to get out there and play,” he said.

In other news around the Spurs:

  • Coach Gregg Popovich said during the team’s annual media day on Monday that Dejounte Murray is up for the challenge of becoming the team’s next standout point guard, Madalyn Mendoza of the San Antonio Express News writes. “He really wants to be good, he really wants to be to the team what Tony (Parker) was to the team,” Popovich said. “I’m confident he’ll do that as time goes on.” Murray’s ability to push the ball will force the tempo and challenge his teammates, Popovich adds. “Other players will have to run like they’ve never run before because he’s going to go,” Popovich said. “And if they want to ball they’ll have to run with him.”
  • LaMarcus Aldridge is glad the Kawhi Leonard saga is over and doesn’t want to rehash it, Michael Bolin of 247Sports relays. “It’s obviously gone now. If you are gonna ask questions about that whole thing, I’m not going to answer it,” the veteran power forward said. “We are happy to turn the page.”
  • Popovich took recently retired guard Manu Ginobili on his annual coaches’ retreat last week, ESPN’s Michael C. Wright tweets. Ginobili revealed earlier this month that Popovich tried to talk him into playing for another season.

Lack Of Desire Convinced Ginobili To Retire

Manu Ginobili admitted that his decision to retire was painstaking and that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich tried to convince him to play another year. “I am very sure about the decision, it’s still awkward,” Ginobili said during a press conference that was relayed by “But my finger shaked a lot before hitting that enter (button). It wasn’t an easy decision.”

Popovich was hoping that he could change Ginobili’s mind but realized quickly that his longtime sixth man wasn’t going to budge.

“He briefly tried to convince me. He saw me very convinced,” Ginobili said. “I guess he saw it right away. He respected my decision, of course, and we had a great talk.”

Ginobili announced his retirement on August 27th. The deciding factor was the lack of desire to go through the rigors of an 82-game regular season one more time.

“I couldn’t see my body doing through that kind of grind again,” he said. “When I came back here and came to workout a little bit to lift or bike or whatever, I saw Bryn (Forbes), I saw Dejounte (Murray) and some of the guys working out and preparing for the season and I was so far from that. That’s when I said, ‘For sure, this is it.’ There was a little bit of that door opened, but it closed pretty quick.”

Ginobili, 41, was the 57th overall pick in the 1999 draft. The Argentinian played overseas for three more seasons, then joined the Spurs in 2002, spending the next 16 years with the franchise.

Over the course of his NBA career, Ginobili appeared in 1,057 regular season contests, averaging 13.3 PPG, 3.8 APG, and 3.5 RPG. He also played in 218 more postseason contests, winning four championships with the Spurs. A two-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA player, the Argentinian shooting guard was the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2008.

Community Shootaround: What’s Next For Popovich?

The Spurs‘ three longest-tenured players left the team this offseason, with Tony Parker departing in free agency, Kawhi Leonard getting traded to Toronto, and Manu Ginobili announces his retirement earlier this week.

San Antonio still has a pair of All-NBA players in DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, along with a handful of reliable veterans – Pau Gasol, Rudy Gay, Marco Belinelli – and a group of up-and-coming youngsters, such as Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker, and Jakob Poeltl. Even without Ginobili, the Spurs should be a strong playoff contender in the competitive Western Conference in 2018/19.

Nonetheless, with longtime Spurs like Parker and Ginobili leaving San Antonio just two years after Tim Duncan did, it’s fair to wonder how Gregg Popovich‘s mindset has been affected by the upheaval on the roster, not to mention to the impact his wife’s death in April might have had on his future plans.

Popovich is by far the NBA’s longest-tenured head coach, having taking over on the Spurs’ sidelines back in 1996 — no other head coach has been in his current role since before 2008. Popovich will also turn 70 years old during the 2018/19 season and has been working as a basketball coach in some capacity for the last four and a half decades. It’s possible that Popovich may not want to keep his job with the Spurs for a whole lot longer.

In a roundtable for, a series of writers and reporters explored Popovich’s possible future, with Steve Aschburner and Shaun Powell of speculating that the three-time Coach of the Year will coach for two more years, then treat the 2020 Olympics as his farewell to the game. However, Sekou Smith, who was impressed by Popovich’s energy at the Team USA minicamp last month, writes that he wouldn’t be surprised to see the longtime Spurs coach remain in his current role for another three or four years.

What do you think? Will the departures of Parker and Ginobili this offseason hasten Popovich’s own exit? Will the 2020 Olympics be his last hurrah? Or can we expect to see the five-time NBA champion stick with the Spurs for several more years to come?

Jump into the comment section below to weigh in!

Gregg Popovich Comments On Passing Of Bob Bass

Former Spurs general manager Bob Bass passed away from a series of strokes on Friday night, per the San Antonio-Express News. He was 89 years old.

Bass enjoyed a decorated coaching and front office career in basketball, most prominently spending 20 years with the Spurs. In that time, San Antonio made the postseason 17 times and advanced to the conference finals on three occasions.

“Over the course of four decades, Bob Bass had a huge impact in both the ABA and NBA,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said in a statement. “BB was a true pioneer in the world of professional basketball. His knowledge, passion and dedication to the game were inspiring. We send our condolences to the entire Bass family.”

Bass’ coaching career included stints at the ABA and on the collegiate level for Texas Tech.

Kawhi Leonard, Popovich Meet In San Diego

Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard met with head coach Gregg Popovich on Tuesday in San Diego, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports reports.

The meeting was conducted professionally and confidentially, according to Charania, but there’s no indication that Leonard has softened his stance on being traded. Leonard’s desire to be moved, with Los Angeles being his preferred destination, was revealed last week.

Today’s meeting had been scheduled for weeks and was not a response to Leonard’s trade request, Sam Amick of USA Today tweets.

There has been steady communication between the Spurs’ front office and Leonard’s representatives, Charania adds. If Leonard is willing to stay put and sign a max extension with the Spurs, that could alter plans for several teams who have been angling to put together a package deal for him.

However, according to Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski of, Leonard has privately maintained that he no longer wants to play for the Spurs, and intends to eventually let suitors know that his intention is to sign in L.A. – preferably with the Lakers – when he reaches free agency in 2019.

The Spurs likely won’t be eager to facilitate a trade to the Lakers for Leonard, who remains upset over the team’s handling of his quad injury, as well as public comments from Popovich and teammate Tony Parker about the situation, per Shelburne and Wojnarowski.

While San Antonio has encouraged teams calling about Leonard to make offers if they so choose, the club has been “largely reluctant” to provide guidance on what sort of package it’s seeking, league sources tell the ESPN duo. The Spurs’ top priority continues to be talking with Leonard and his camp to work through the issues, according to Shelburne and Wojnarowski.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Latest On Kawhi Leonard

The long-anticipated offseason meeting between Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and star forward Kawhi Leonard figures to happen sooner rather than later, writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

As Wojnarowski outlines, the two men may actually have a series of conversations as they determine whether “a lasting trust and partnership can be rebuilt.” They’ll also discuss Leonard’s medical care and treatment going forward, his relationships with teammates and the coaching staff, and – of course – a possible contract extension.

While Leonard will be eligible for a super-max extension this offseason, that eligibility wouldn’t necessarily carry over to the 2019 offseason unless he once again earns an All-NBA spot – or wins the MVP or Defensive Player of the Year award – in 2018/19. That’s one reason why those extension talks will be so important, and why the Spurs not putting an offer on the table could theoretically prompt Leonard’s camp to push for a trade.

Here’s more on Leonard:

  • The Celtics made a trade offer for Leonard prior to the February trade deadline, but the Spurs turned it down and didn’t make a counter-offer, league sources tell Wojnarowski. So far, San Antonio’s unwillingness to discuss trades involving the club’s standout forward has carried over to the offseason.
  • If the Spurs do become open to making a deal, expect the Lakers and the Sixers to be among the teams expressing interest, says Wojnarowski. The Celtics may be a less likely suitor at this point, given the strides their young core made during the 2017/18 season — and postseason.
  • Popovich wants to coach Leonard for the rest of his Spurs tenure, but the question of how much longer the veteran coach plans to stick around could be a factor in Kawhi’s decision on a long-term extension. According to Wojnarowski, few in Popovich’s “orbit” expect him to continue coaching the Spurs beyond the 2020 Summer Olympics.
  • In a separate report for, Wojnarowski and Michael C. Wright provide details on a story related to Leonard, writing that his former agent – Brian Elfus – is suing Impact Sports for allegedly withholding commissions on multiple contracts, including Leonard’s current deal. Elfus claims he’s owed up to $5MM in damages.

Spurs Expected To Give Kyle Anderson Qualifying Offer

The Spurs are expected to extend a qualifying offer to forward Kyle Anderson, which would make him a restricted free agent, Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News reports. The qualifying offer is worth approximately $4.75MM.

San Antonio will probably have to pay significantly more to retain Anderson. As many as seven teams are expected to pursue Anderson’s services, according to Young, even though the Spurs can match any offer if they make the qualifying offer by the June 29th deadline.

The 6’9” Anderson saw a dramatic increase in his playing time during his fourth season, in part due to Kawhi Leonard‘s quad injury that kept him out for all but nine games. Anderson appeared in 74 regular-season games, including 67 starts, and averaged career highs in points (7.9), rebounds (5.4) and assists (2.7) in 26.7 MPG.

Anderson would be even more valuable to the Spurs if they can’t resolve their differences with Leonard. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Leonard are expected to meet as early as this week to determine Leonard’s future with the franchise, Young notes.

Popovich, Leonard Expected To Meet Before Draft

After a tumultuous season in San Antonio, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and star forward Kawhi Leonard are expected to sit down and talk sometime before the draft on June 21, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said during a TV appearance on Tuesday (video link via Rob Lopez of DefPenHoops).

According to Wojnarowski, the Spurs will be looking to repair the relationship between Leonard and the organization. The two sides were at odds during the 2017/18 season as Leonard opted to listen to the advice of outside doctors rather than the Spurs’ medical staff, resulting in him missing all but nine games due to a nagging quadriceps injury.

While Leonard’s teammates have publicly supported him, Wojnarowski suggests that the 26-year-old may have to mend some fences on that front too. Meanwhile, the Spurs will have to decide whether or not to put a long-term, super-max extension offer on the table.

If San Antonio doesn’t offer Leonard a new contract this summer, trade speculation could heat up. For now though, despite interest from teams around the NBA, the Spurs aren’t entertaining the possibility of discussing a deal, says Wojnarowski.

Ettore Messina To Coach Spurs In Game 4

Assistant coach Ettore Messina will reprise his role from Wednesday and serve as the head coach for the Spurs for Game 4 of San Antonio’s first-round series against the Warriors tomorrow, tweets Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News.

Messina is filling in for Gregg Popovich, who is away from the team mourning the death of his wife Erin. With San Antonio down 3-0 to Golden State, it’s possible that tomorrow is the Spurs’ final game of the season. If the series resumes, it’s unclear if Popovich will take his regular seat for the remainder of the series.

Messina is reportedly a top candidate for a head coaching job this offseason and has received interest from the Hornets, who are on the lookout for Steve Clifford‘s replacement. San Antonio granted Charlotte permission to interview Messina, which will likely take place after the Spurs’ season is complete. For now, Messina’s focus will be to stave off elimination.

Ettore Messina To Coach Spurs In Game 3

The Spurs have announced that top assistant coach Ettore Messina will coach the club on Thursday night for Game 3 of San Antonio’s first-round series vs. the Warriors, taking Gregg Popovich‘s spot on the bench.

Popovich will be away from the Spurs after his wife Erin passed away on Wednesday. The team will surely give him as much time as he needs to mourn and to be with his family, so it’s not yet clear whether he’ll be back on the sidelines for Game 4 on Sunday.

Messina, long considered a top candidate to become a permanent NBA head coach, has reportedly received interest from the Hornets, who are on the lookout for Steve Clifford‘s replacement. The Spurs granted Charlotte permission to interview Messina, but that meeting figures to take place later, with the veteran Euroleague coach focused on getting San Antonio into the win column against Golden State on Thursday.