Jun 2, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich answers questions prior to the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder for game four of the Western Conference finals of the 2012 NBA playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmonsj-US PRESSWIRE
With news that Mike Krzyzewski likely won’t return to the sidelines for the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Doc Rivers, whose currently covering the Olympics for NBC, appears to be a natural fit. For starters, Rivers is well-versed in the Team USA program and his coaching attributes seem to be a synonymous fit for the eclectic United States roster.
But, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports notes, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich would also be a great fit given his longstanding reputation as an excellent player developer.
“San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich deserves the foremost consideration, but that will never happen with Jerry Colangelo running USA Basketball and Mike Krzyzewski staying on in some kind of emeritus role. It’s a shame, because Popovich has a peerless NBA and international coaching resumé. If a mutual distaste with Colangelo won’t allow Popovich the opportunity, Rivers deserves close examination.”
Woj brings up a good point — Pop should, given his unparalleled track record, receive the lionshare of attention. I’m not necessarily sure Pop needs the accolades that stem from building the Team USA program and, as Woj mentioned, Colangelo doesn’t seem enthused to bring him in. But should Pop sign off to the idea, I don’t see any coach that can be considered a better candidate to continue the interests of Colangelo — whether that be in the interim or in the distant future.
Whether the successor to the throne is Rivers or some other high-profile college coach, their inability to court Popovich won’t be a dire mistake. But it will be a mistake nonetheless.
In reality, they may have missed out on the perfect coach that can juggle handling veterans, instill confidence in his younger players (as he’s done with Kawhi Leonard, Gary Neal, George Hill, Danny Green etc etc), manage a coaching staff, cultivating a system suited to the many strengths of the roster and, most important, be flexible enough to adhere to the natural progression of basketball.
But, hey, it’s their loss.