San Antonio Spurs News

San Antonio Spurs: Gregg Popovich is the last man standing

By Rob Wolkenbrod
CLEVELAND, OH - FEBRUARY 25: Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs watches his players during the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on February 25, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - FEBRUARY 25: Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs watches his players during the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on February 25, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Without the “Big 3” on the San Antonio Spurs, New York Times reporter Marc Stein speculated on head coach Gregg Popovich’s future.

The San Antonio Spurs saw their foundation start to break down, when Tim Duncan retired in 2016 after 19 NBA seasons. Two years later, Tony Parker departed for the Charlotte Hornets and was followed out the door by Manu Ginobili, who announced his retirement Monday.

The “Big 3” era was always captained by head coach Gregg Popovich, who’s the last man standing in San Antonio. No franchise players remain as the 2018-19 season approaches, with Patty Mills and LaMarcus Aldridge among the longest tenured players.

How much longer will Popovich stick around? Marc Stein of The New York Times speculated on The Jim Rome Show that Popovich could stay through his Spurs contract, coach Team USA and call it a career. Though, Stein said it’s a surprise the five-time champion coach has lasted this long.

“Pop used to tell us all the time ‘the minute [Tim] Duncan leaves, I’m out,” said Stein. “‘I will follow him out the door.’ And now, he’s the last one left.”

With September’s training camp, that features none of the “Big 3,” it will become one of the most unique in recent Spurs history. New faces will take over, including DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl, while half the roster arrives with two or fewer years of NBA experience. So the franchise’s potential future is there, but how long will Popovich stay to see it through, especially as he turns 70 years old?

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It’s a new era in San Antonio, but with the oldest face still around. One day, that will change, too, and put this organization’s path on a direction not seen since the 1990’s, before Popovich took the head coach role. When that day happens, who knows what the state of this team will be.

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