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San Antonio Spurs Rumors: Bill Self could be in line to take over for Gregg Popovich

LAWRENCE, KANSAS - JANUARY 14: Head coach Bill Self of the Kansas Jayhawks watches his team against the Texas Longhorns at Allen Fieldhouse on January 14, 2019 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
LAWRENCE, KANSAS - JANUARY 14: Head coach Bill Self of the Kansas Jayhawks watches his team against the Texas Longhorns at Allen Fieldhouse on January 14, 2019 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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With Gregg Popovich’s career winding down, the San Antonio Spurs will need to enter an era of transition for the first time in a while. Is Bill Self a possible successor to the greatest coach in NBA history?

Gregg Popovich is nearing the end of his illustrious coaching career even though this season was one of his finest coaching jobs during his historic tenure with the San Antonio Spurs.

The rumors among the sports media predict that Pop will either retire this offseason as he’s been open about his indecision in coming back next year, or he could wait until he coaches the USA team in the 2020 Olympics before he decides to put away the clipboard for good.

Either way, the Spurs will be forced to find a new coach for the first time since 1996 in the near future.

Many have assumed that San Antonio will promote someone on their current coaching staff, and they have three promising head coaching candidates on their bench right now in Becky Hammon, Ime Udoka, and Ettore Messina.

However, an intriguing rumor has popped up lately regarding Bill Self’s connection to the Spurs.

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The current Kansas head coach has a history with Spurs general manager R.C. Buford.

On The Ringer’s most recent NBA podcast, Jonathan Tjarks mentioned that Self and Buford were roommates in college at Oklahoma State where they both played basketball, and Buford even sent his son Chase to Kansas to play for his longtime friend.

If Buford decides he wants to shake things up a bit after over two decades of Popovich’s leadership, he could call his buddy Bill to see if he’s interested in making the jump to the NBA.

Bill Self’s success at the college level is unquestioned as he’s led Kansas to a 473-106 record during his 16 seasons with the Jayhawks, including a run of 14 straight regular season Big 12 titles and a national championship in 2008.

Self proved himself at other schools before his tenure at Kansas with a ton of success turning around the programs of Oral Roberts and Tulsa before winning a Big 10 title in each of his three seasons at Illinois.

Unfortunately Self has never coached at the NBA level, but the fact that he’s already in the Hall of Fame should give him plenty of credibility in the pros.

There are some mixed results of prominent college coaches taking NBA jobs with the most recent examples including Brad Stevens, Rick Pitino, John Calipari, and Larry Brown among others, but the success rate is pretty similar to any other type of NBA head coaching hire.

This would certainly be some outside of the box thinking from an organization that hasn’t changed its structure very often during the last 20+ years, but the combination of Buford and Self’s relationship and Self’s illustrious coaching record at the college level could give this rumor more legs than your typical NBA scuttlebutt.

Personally, I’m rooting for the Spurs to make Becky Hammon the first female head coach in major American men’s sports. She is also extremely qualified for the job, which would prevent her hiring from simply being a cute story.

But getting a coach of Self’s stature is incredibly intriguing, and I could see him taking the job after reaching the peak of his profession at the college level.

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We’ll continue to keep our ears to the ground regarding a possible coaching change in San Antonio, but this rumor is worth pondering until we know more about Gregg Popovich’s future.

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