Gregg Popovich has been in unfamiliar territory with the San Antonio Spurs for the last couple of seasons: losing more than he's winning. After 22 consecutive playoff appearances, the Silver and Black are officially in a prolonged rebuilding stage that they'll need to work to get out of this summer.
Beyond the questions of what the team will do with free agents like DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, and Patty Mills, there lies an equally important question: Will Gregg Popovich be back as head coach next season?
While there likely won't be a solid answer from the man himself in the next few weeks, it's not out of the question that the 72-year-old might be contemplating handing over the reins to spend more time with his family and wine cellar. The morning after the Spurs' four-point loss to Memphis, Robert Horry predicted Coach Popovich will retire on the Dan Patrick Show.
"Pop is a passionate guy," said Horry. "He has that fire but it's time for him to do something else. He could do anything. He should be an inspirational speaker. That way he can spend more time with his family and get off the court. Let someone else have that team."
Yet, beyond Coach Pop's undeniable competitiveness and desire to see this young team in the playoffs, there's another important reason for him to make at least one more run. Heading into his 26th year, he's now 26 games away from breaking the all-time NBA coaching wins record.
Don Nelson: 1335
Lenny Wilkens: 1332
Gregg Popovich: 1310
Will the all-time coaching wins record affect Coach Pop's decision?
Although they've had a pair of disappointing seasons, there's no question the Spurs would eclipse 25 wins next season. So the bigger question here is: does Coach Popovich value such a feat enough to influence his offseason decision?
Knowing Pop's humble nature and "there are more important things than basketball" nature, I'm inclined to say no. While it would be a tremendous accomplishment, he would likely brush it off within minutes after crediting Tim Duncan with being responsible for it.
Ultimately, I can't see the desire to coach leaving Coach Popovich anytime soon, but I can see him wanting to give someone like Becky Hammon their shot while also getting to relax for the first time since the late 1980s.
Either choice wouldn't shock me, but I'd be surprised if Pop even mentions the record in any capacity as he's asked about returning this offseason. One thing is for sure -- the job is his as long as he wants it, and he's earned that right by now.