Gregg Popovich

Gregg Popovich Unsure If He’ll Coach Spurs Beyond 2018/19

Longtime Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich remains undecided about his future beyond the 2018/19 season, writes Marc Stein of The New York Times. Popovich is in the final season of his current contract, and while the team would be happy to extend him for as long as he wants, he’s unsure whether he’ll continue his coaching career next season.

“I don’t know the answer,” Popovich said when asked about his coaching future.

According to Stein, Popovich – the NBA’s longest-tenured head coach by 12 years – said that he and general manager R.C. Buford have “periodically” discussed the Spurs’ options beyond this season. Buford notes that Popovich will remain on San Antonio’s bench for “as long as he wants to coach.”

NBA observers have speculated that Popovich would coach the Spurs for one more season after 2018/19, then retire after working with Team USA in the 2020 Olympics. However, while Popovich remains on track to coach the U.S. basketball squad in Tokyo in the summer of 2020, there’s no guarantee he’ll still coach the Spurs leading up to that event.

As Stein observes, Popovich will also coach Team USA during this year’s World Cup, which takes place in September, just two weeks before NBA training camps get underway. With international competitions bookending the ’19/20 season, Popovich may prefer to focus on those Team USA responsibilities.

Stein also points out that Popovich will turn 70 years old later this month. Only three other head coaches in NBA history have worked into their 70s, per Stein — Bill Bertka (71), Hubie Brown (71) and Larry Brown (70).

Popovich currently has the third-most wins of any coach in league history, with 1,223, and also ranks fifth in all-time winning percentage (.686) among coaches who have been on the sidelines for at least 100 games.

Raptors/Spurs Notes: Kawhi, DeRozan, Popovich

The Raptors and Spurs are set to face one another on Thursday night for the first time since consummating their blockbuster offseason trade nearly six months ago. Predictably, discussion this week has centered on Kawhi Leonard‘s return to San Antonio and DeMar DeRozan‘s first game against the team with whom he thought he’d spend the rest of his career.

In his latest deep dive for ESPN.com, however, Tim Bontemps focuses less on last summer’s trade and more on the Raptors’ plan to keep Leonard beyond this season. Within his piece, Bontemps shares a series of interesting details on Nick Nurse‘s first meeting with Kawhi, the Raptors’ strategy for managing their superstar’s health, and the franchise’s belief that it has built the sort of culture in Toronto that will help convince Leonard to re-sign.

“When we came aboard six years ago, we wanted to bring this organization to a level where you can make this pitch,” Toronto GM Bobby Webster said. “So you have strength in excellence around the organization — the basketball side, the coaching staff, the medical and support staff, obviously ownership — to where when we have a superstar player, an MVP-candidate-type player, now we can go to him and say, ‘We are really confident in who we are, we’re really proud of what we’ve built, and these are all the reasons why we think you should stay.'”

According to Bontemps, the “popular opinion among league executives” for now is that Leonard’s decision could come down to the Raptors vs. the Clippers. While the Raps are doing their best to sell Kawhi on the city and the franchise, the Clippers can offer two things Toronto can’t — an opportunity to return home to Los Angeles and year-round warm weather. It remains to be seen how important those factors will be and what other factors Leonard will seriously weigh, and he’s not offering any hints.

“I’m not thinking about that,” Leonard told Bontemps when asked about his upcoming free agency. “I’m focused on right now, what this is bringing for me and focused on the opportunity that I have here and what we can do this season. Later down the road, that’s when I’ll make my decision.”

Here’s more on the Raptors and Spurs, with a focus on the two stars involved in July’s blockbuster:

  • Speaking to reporters, including Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich downplayed the importance of Thursday’s reunion, calling it a “waste of our time” to rehash the details of Leonard’s exit from San Antonio. “You move on in life,” he said. “We’re not going to redo what’s happened in the past in any way, shape or form. It’s of no consequence at this point, and it does no good to go backward and talk about this, that or the other.”
  • For what it’s worth, within his story on Leonard (detailed above), Bontemps reports that Popovich, who said in November that Leonard “wasn’t a leader,” has regretted making those comments — and the way that they were perceived.
  • Jabari Young of The Athletic takes a look at Thursday’s reunion from both sides, citing one source close to Leonard who says the All-Star forward doesn’t hold any hard feeling toward the Spurs. Meanwhile, a source close to DeRozan offered the following assessment of DeMar’s impressions of the Spurs’ organization: “He has never experienced the amount of professionalism from a day-to-day basis from a coach, GM, or organization that he has in his short term in San Antonio.”
  • DeRozan spoke a little more this week about unexpectedly being traded by the Raptors, telling reporters – including Eric Koreen of The Athletic – that he had wanted to remain with the team and “break every single record” in Toronto. “Sometimes you don’t get in life the opportunity to marry the woman you felt was the woman of your dreams,” DeRozan said. “So, it just happens that way.”

Southwest Notes: Grizzlies, Popovich, Forbes

The Grizzlies have been one of the surprise teams to start the season, as they sit firmly in the Western Conference playoff picture at 13-8. As the season continues to unfold, it looks more and more clear that the Grizzlies hit on nearly all of their offseason moves as they’ve built a team that thrives on playing tough, physical defense at a slow pace.

Mark Giannotto of The Commercial Appeal is now asking another question related to the Grizzlies’ season, focusing on how the team can improve its roster during the year to capitalize on this fast start. While the Grizzlies do have some expiring contracts on the roster in the form of Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green, those two are key cogs in the team’s rotation, especially defensively.

The Grizzlies could use another go-to perimeter player to help Mike Conley, but it may be tough to find an ideal trade that doesn’t see the Grizzlies sacrifice too much on the defensive end. Regardless, Memphis may become an active buyer at the trade deadline should their strong play continue.

There’s more from the Southwest division:

  • In a recent mailbag for The Daily Memphian, Chris Herrington addresses potential trade targets for the Grizzlies as they look to address their needs on the perimeter.
  • The Spurs are certainly struggling, as they sit at 10-12 and in 14th place in the Western Conference. As Chelsea Howard points out for The Sporting News, Gregg Popovich is putting a lot of blame on himself as he expects more from his coaching performance moving forward.
  • One bright spot for the Spurs has been the play of Bryn Forbes, who looks to be developing into one of the league’s best shooters, as Bryan Kalbrosky writes for HoopsHype. Forbes has received a much larger role due to the various injuries in the backcourt and is averaging 16.1 points and 3 three-pointers per 36 minutes.

Western Notes: Popovich, Rose, Jazz, Harrison

Gregg Popovich was asked Saturday about the importance of Patty Mills‘ leadership following the departures of Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili, with the longtime Spurs coach delivering a straightforward answer on the matter.

“Kawhi was a great player, but he wasn’t a leader or anything,” Popovich said, according to ESPN’s Michael C. Wright. “Manu and Patty were the leaders. Kawhi’s talent will always be missed, but that leadership wasn’t his deal at that time. That may come as he progresses, but Manu and Patty filled that role last year, and LaMarcus [Aldridge] came a long way in that regard also.”

The Spurs traded Leonard and Danny Green to the Raptors in exchange for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first-round pick this summer, ending a seven-year run for Leonard with the team. Leonard grew as a player and teammate in San Antonio, receiving two All-Star selections and a Finals MVP.

Popovich called him a “great teammate” this past offseason and appreciated his contributions, but it’s no secret who the leaders on the team were during their time together.

There’s more out of the Western Conference today:

  • Derrick Rose is happy with the Timberwolves‘ play since Jimmy Butler was traded, as relayed by the Chicago Sun-Times. “I think the ball movement, everyone being on the same page, and the new pieces that we have, like they’re for the team,” Rose said. “They’re professional, great dudes, and that’s what we needed.’’ Minnesota traded Butler and Justin Patton for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round pick in early November.
  • Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News examines what’s wrong with the Jazz, who have started the 2018/19 season with an 8-11 record. Utah was one of the NBA’s most surprising teams last season, finishing the campaign with a 48-34 record.
  • Shaquille Harrison holds no hard feelings toward the Suns after being cut by the team before the season, Gina Mizell of The Athletic writes. “I’ve always taken that with me,” Harrison said. “You just never know what’s gonna happen, how things are gonna shake out. I just looked at it as an opportunity for me. It ended up working out for me. I looked at things as everything happens for a reason, so it was purposeful.” Harrison, now with the Bulls, played 18 minutes against Phoenix on Wednesday.

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 NBA.com 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 NBA.com. “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 NBA.com, a series of writers and reporters explored Popovich’s possible future, with Steve Aschburner and Shaun Powell of NBA.com 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 ESPN.com, 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 ESPN.com, 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.