Gregg Popovich reportedly not expected to coach past 2020
By Matias Weilmann
Gregg Popovich might not coach the San Antonio Spurs for much longer, according to a report.
When Gregg Popovich took over as the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs in 1996, askjeeves.com had just been formed and the Nintendo 64 was released in Japan, so it’s been a while since someone other than Popovich coached the Spurs.
That may change sooner rather than later.
According to a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, few in Popovich’s inner circle believe he’s going to coach past 2020, when he will be the head coach of Team USA for the Summer Olympics. Popovich, who turned 69 earlier this year, could either coach up to the 2020 Olympics and then retire, or he could retire before the 2019 season and instead travel around the NBA and the across the globe.
As reported on Wednesday morning, GM R.C. Buford has been preparing for a potential Popovich retirement since the Spurs won their fifth title back in 2014.
Rumors began circling that Popovich could potentially end his coaching career when Duncan walked away back in 2016. Those rumors ended up being false, and since has taken the shape of Popovich retiring once the “Big 3’s” era in San Antonio is done.
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With Duncan retired and the futures of Ginobili, who turns 41 in July, and Parker, who just turned 36 last month and is a free agent this summer, in question, it appears that the “Big 3” era is on its last legs.
In his 22 seasons as head coach of the Spurs, Popovich has cemented himself as one of the greatest coaches of all time. His 1197 wins rank fifth all-time, and his .689 win percentage is second only to Phil Jackson amongst coaches of 10-plus seasons. The 3-time Coach of the Year and 5-time NBA Champion also has the third most playoff victories, trailing only Phil Jackson and Pat Riley.
Popovich coached up until Game 3 of the playoff this past season, when Ettore Messina, who is Popovich’s top assistant, took over following the death of Popovich’s wife, Erin Popovich. Messina was a hot candidate for head coaching vacancies the past few weeks, but missed out on the openings, most notably the Toronto Raptors job, which went to former Raptor’s assistant Nick Nurse.
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The focus now shifts to Popovich’s imminent retirement affecting Kawhi Leonard’s ultimate decision regarding his future as a Spur.
Popovich and Leonard reportedly met in New York City earlier this week to start the healing process between Leonard and the Spurs, but a looming retirement from Popovich could impact Leonard’s decision to stay with the club long term.