It’s almost blasphemous to envision Gregg Popovich coaching any other NBA team not named the San Antonio Spurs. Popovich has been at the helm of the team for 24 years, and he’s had incredible success along the way.
After missing the playoffs for the first time in 23 years, though, Popovich might be looking for a change of scenery. The Spurs have maybe the weakest roster since Popovich took the reins in 1996, and he doesn’t have time to wait for their young stars to develop. There’s also a 2021 contender who’s eyeing the Hall-of-Fame coach, and Popovich might just entertain the idea.
Gregg Popovich has led the Spurs to five NBA titles in 24 years
Since 1996, the only NBA head coach who’s had more success than Gregg Popovich is Phil Jackson. Popovich has led the Spurs to five titles in 24 years as the head coach of the Spurs. Popovich’s Spurs only lost one NBA Finals series, and that was only because Ray Allen bailed out the Miami Heat in 2013.
It isn’t just the championships that set Popovich apart. It’s the consistency. In 24 years as the head coach of the Spurs, Popovich has only missed the playoffs twice.
The first time was in his first season with the team, when he took over a flawed roster in the middle of the season. The second time was this past year, and the Spurs would’ve had more time to fight for the eighth seed if not for COVID-19.
Popovich is one of the symbols of sustained success across the entire sports landscape, but he might be doing it with another team soon.
The Brooklyn Nets are interested in poaching Gregg Popovich from the Spurs
Iconic coaches don’t normally leave their sturdy jobs after decades of success for another franchise, but it might be the best option for Popovich. His championship rosters have deteriorated. DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge aren’t getting any younger, and the Spurs’ young stars still need time to sculpt their game.
The Spurs won’t be contending for a title any time soon, which isn’t great news for a 71-year-old coach. If he wants another crack at a title, Popovich will have to jump ship.
Thankfully for him, there’s an up-and-coming team interested in the idea. The Brooklyn Nets, who recently fired head coach Kenny Atkinson, are reportedly gearing up to make a run at Popovich in the offseason, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
With Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan returning to play in 2021, the Nets are one of the more intriguing contenders heading into next season. The only missing piece? An experienced head coach.
There are already strong ties linking Popovich to the Nets
Popovich wouldn’t just be a perfect fit for the Nets because of his championship pedigree. The longtime Spurs head coach has multiple ties to the Nets organization, and it starts at the top.
Brooklyn GM Sean Marks played for Popovich on the Spurs, and he went on to join his staff as an assistant coach and assistant GM in San Antonio. Marks isn’t the only familiar face for Popovich in Brooklyn, either. Nets interim head coach Jacque Vaughn, assistant GM Andy Birdsong and assistants Bret Brielmaier and Tiago Splitter all served stints with Popovich’s Spurs as either players, coaches, or executives.
Besides the front office and coaching staff, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have both expressed interest in playing for Popovich in the past. Durant is even persuading the Nets to make a play for Pop, according to Charania.
It would be hard to pull Popovich away from his heart and soul in San Antonio, but if there’s one team that could pull it off, it would be the Brooklyn Nets.