The San Antonio Spurs have had the same head coach since the 1996-97 season. Gregg Popovich has been dominating the basketball world for decades, and the idea of the Spurs having anyone else at the helm is an alarming and foreign concept for fans.
The fact of the matter is he is a 73-year-old man with an expiring deal and his days of Spurs glory are long since past. Over two decades at the same job is exhausting, and Pop might want to throw in the towel and enjoy his golden years.
Sooner or later, the Spurs will have to find a new head coach. The only question surrounding that is the timeline. Popovich can coach for as long as he wants, but he has been rather cryptic about how long that could be.
Hall of Fame honors could signal the Pop chapter closing
Popovich has avoided being inducted into the Hall of Fame until his star players get their flowers, and it's been suggested that he wanted to wait until retirement to get in. Tony Parker is the last of the "Big 3" to get the nod, but he is eligible in the 2023 class--both he and Popovich are among the nominees.
Knowing that Pop is not the type to want to coach after his enshrinement, could this spell the end of his long reign? Or does he simply want to join the Hall with the last of the superstars he coached to multiple titles? I suspect that Popovich sees Parker as his ultimate prodige. Duncan was NBA-ready on draft night, and Manu Ginobili was stashed in Europe to develop for a few seasons after his selection. Tony Parker came in as a raw teenager, and wrangling the young TP is among Pop's greatest achievements.
Besides, there isn't really a frontrunner to take Pop's spot. Becky Hammon would be the clear first choice if you asked two years ago. The issue with that is Hammon has accepted a large contract deal with the WNBA Las Vegas Aces.
Of course, she’s going to take that opportunity, after being denied NBA head coaching jobs, so that leaves us with Tim Duncan. However, Duncan has stopped taking part in full-time assistant coach duties and seems to be enjoying a quiet retiremnt.
So that eliminates both Timmy and Becky, so who else?
No frontrunners to take Pop's torch?
The other two rumored choices are Quin Snyder and Brett Brown. The problem with Quin Snyder is that he hasn’t really said anything, and a majority of the reason he’s even in the rumor mill for this job is purely hypothetical.
Due to this fact, Brett Brown seems like a much more likely choice. Brown is a current assistant to Pop for the Spurs as well as the former head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers during the baby stages of their rebuilding years in the mid-2010s.
In a November 20th game in Los Angeles against the Lakers, the Spurs lost 123-92 with Gregg being sidelined for an illness, which he quickly recovered from. It was rather unexpected, and Brown ended up coaching the squad for that game.
The only other option I can think of is another Popovich extension for a few more years to possibly rebuild this franchise for a second and final time. This would likely be his last contract, but that's ultimately up to him, as the franchise and ownership would never let him walk.
Regardless of what happens, the coaching job beyond this season is very much shaping up to be a “to be determined“ type of situation. We’ll have to wait and see, don’t we?