De Leon: Gregg Popovich declines Russia coaching offer

By Quixem Ramirez

Dec 10, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich watches from the sideline during the third quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Gregg Popovich, along with Celtics coach Doc Rivers, is a frontrunner for the potentially vacant United States head coaching position.

According to a report found from Project Spurs’ Michael A. De Leon, Popovich rejected an offer from the Russian national team to succeed David Blatt. De Leon noted that Popovich does have some background — including a grasp of the language — making him a good fit for the position.

Russia finished third in the Olympics, with wins over Spain, Brazil and Argentina. Andrei Kirlenko, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, is 31 and competing in future international competitions isn’t a foregone conclusion. Alexey Shved and Timofey Mozgov represent the likeliest candidates to replace Kirlenko’s production.

For the time being, Popovich will wait for current head coach Mike Krzyzewski to officially announce his retirement. According to sources close to’s Marc Stein, Popovich is very interested in the Team USA job.