When Gregg Popovich intentionally rested Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green and Tony Parker before TNT’s nationally televised broadcast, he was doing so to improve his team’s chances of winning in a substantially more important game against Memphis.
Memphis is currently first in the Western Conference at 12-2 and beating them would temporarily give San Antonio a leg up in playoff seeding.
An unintentional downfall of “Restgate” could be Popovich’s candidacy for the Team USA coaching gig. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein tackled the possibility of NBA commissioner David Stern interfering with the coaching selection process, following the likely departure of current head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
The league, though, does get to register its input, which means Stern will have a voice until his Feb. 1, 2014 retirement. It’s thus not much of a stretch to imagine the league (re: Stern) lobbying USA Basketball to view this whole chaotic episode, no matter how far Stern overreached, as a prime example of Pop’s long-perceived reluctance to be more of a partner with the league office than they’ve historically been.
Stein did note that USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo does have the final say, regardless of the league’s inquiries.
Indeed, if Krzyzewski does leave the program as expected, Colangelo, who forgoed Popovich in 2004, may be yet another road block in Popovich’s way.
It wouldn’t be the first time.