“Coach Pop won’t stand for a tank”
This is categorically false and I will disagree with it until I am given direct proof otherwise. Popovich already knows that this team will be dreadful, despite their best efforts. Granted, he said it in much more diplomatic terms than that, but after a play-in tournament elimination last year and losing the only All-Star this offseason, the Spurs will be dreadful, and Pop knows this.
Pop’s first season was on that Spurs team that was tanking for Tim Duncan. It worked and created the best relationship in all of sports. Granted, I don’t think anyone thinks he has enough gas in the tank to coach for Wembanyama’s entire career, but I think having the best coach of all time would be the kick that would jumpstart a Hall of Fame career.
Popovich is the gold standard of NBA coaching, and he can stay around as long as he wants. If the Spurs draft a franchise savior, I think he will want to stick around as long as possible. Partly to help the prospect grow into an NBA superstar, but also to help ensure that the next big phenom becomes a well-rounded man, as well.
It would be nice for the Spurs to go full circle, with Popovich leading another tank on the way to nabbing a generational talent, but the thing about circles is they never have an end, so maybe the GOAT coach would want to train the NBA’s next GOAT.