Is Gregg Popovich’s tenure with the Spurs nearly over?

By Quixem Ramirez

Mar 24, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich catches a loose ball during their game against the New Orleans Hornets at the New Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-US PRESSWIRE

I hate to break this to you guys.

But Gregg Popovich, widely lauded as one of the greatest coaches in NBA history and definite Hall of Famer, won’t be coaching the San Antonio Spurs for much longer.

It is unlikely he leaves as long as Tim Duncan is in the fold — the two of them have an inextricable bond and surely Popovich would hate to miss any opportunity to coach Duncan, who has allowed Popovich to employ his tactics and nearly crucify his players in practice — but Duncan isn’t going to play basketball for much longer either.

This is the harsh reality of sports and something that can’t be planned nor easier to stomach even though we know the end result. Duncan will retire and Popovich will do so too. It may not happen in the same offseason but the two will represent the Spurs for as long as possible.

Matt Moore of Pro Basketball Talk hinted about Popovich’s departure, which could happen as early as the 2014-15 season should Duncan decline his $10.36 million player option.

“But what will also pass quietly is that we could very well be looking at the second-to-last season for     Popovich in the NBA. There have been jokes and comments about Popovich retiring the second that Tim     Duncan walks away. Duncan just re-signed for two more years with a player option for a third. If Duncan     walks away when he can ditch the player option to get it off the Spurs’ books, something he would do     because he’s that kind of guy, this could be Popovich’s second-to-last camp. That’s not a big deal. It could     be his second-to-last. So there will be no huge arching narratives. Even when it is, there likely won’t be.”

The Spurs will still retain the majority of their personnel, R.C Buford and Peter Holt will likely remain essential tenets to the organization in three years, but they will be undeniably different. They may be worse but that isn’t guaranteed given the recent success of the front office.

Kawhi Leonard could be the face of that team but he will have his work cut out for him without Duncan and Popovich providing him with the best safety valve in the NBA.

That is going to be a weird time for everyone but that shouldn’t take away from what has been the apogee of the organization and, personally, the most fun period of basketball I have ever watched.

The memories we retain and the accolades they receive will be payment enough for an exemplary period of basketball excellence. But until then, let’s just enjoy these few seasons right?