The San Antonio Spurs are fresh off of their 7-game series loss to the Denver Nuggets. However, head coach Gregg Popovich is already moving forward with a team he apparently likes. According to ESPN, Popovich and Spurs are ready to ink a three-year deal to keep the veteran coach from retiring.
Popovich basically named himself the Spurs’ head coach during the 1996-97 NBA season. He led the Spurs (37-13) to the NBA title during the 50-game season in 1998-99. Otherwise, Popovich would have had 20 straight 50-win seasons. The streak ended last season when Kawhi Leonard played nine games. Furthemore, the Spurs lost three Hall of Fame players due to old age in recent seasons. As a result, it seemed like a reasonable solution if Popovich decided to retire at some point.
Well, Popovich has other plans and it has to do with some young talent in the organization. The Spurs earned the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference with a (48-34) record. Remember, they didn’t have point guard Dejounte Murray all season. Instead, the knee injury forced Derrick White to slide over to the point. He progressed so well, the Spurs are in line to have one of the best young back courts in the NBA next season. More importantly, they know White is capable of playing point guard for the long haul. Popovich sees these options and knows he has something special to work with.
The Spurs lost their way surrounding the all-star break. White was suffering through an injury and missed the majority of their rodeo road trip. As a result, they lost 7 of 8 games. However, they recovered to go (15-5) down the stretch to secure a playoff spot. They took the Nuggets down to the wire, but fell just short of advancing to the second round.
Interestingly enough, the Spurs ended the season on a coaching/playing mistake. Everybody saw when they decided not to foul late in the game. Maybe it’s one of the reasons why Popovich is ready to return. He can’t end his Spurs’ career that way.
In all, Popovich 1,245-575 in 23 seasons as head coach. With any luck, the Spurs should be back to a 50-win team next season. Meaning, the Spurs have a great chance to earn home court advantage in the first-round of the playoffs. Maybe Popovich has at least one more title run with an entirely new squad. That’s enough motivation for the five-time NBA champion to return.