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#pounditSunday, January 16, 2022

Gregg Popovich

Ben Simmons wants to play for 1 particular head coach?

Ben Simmons on the court

Ben Simmons began his NBA career with Brett Brown as his head coach. Now Simmons could be eyeing the possibility of playing for Brown’s mentor.

NBA writer Marc Stein said this week in a post to his Substack page that the disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers star would welcome the opportunity to play for Gregg Popovich if the San Antonio Spurs found a way to acquire him. Stein adds that Popovich’s presence still resonates with many players and notes that San Antonio also has acclaimed shooting coach Chip Engelland, someone who can help Simmons with his infamous jumper (or lack thereof).

At 8-15, the Spurs are a non-contending team right now. That means that Popovich’s coaching would be the primary draw for a player like Simmons.

This season is shaping up to be a lost one for Simmons, who remains away from the Sixers and does not seem to be any closer to getting his wish for a trade. But with some rumors that Popovich could keep coaching for longer than expected, the Spurs may be surprisingly high on Simmons’ list of preferred landing spots.

Photo: May 13, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) warms up prior to the game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Gregg Popovich has hilarious response when asked about key to his success

Gregg Popovich

Gregg Popovich is one of the three or four greatest coaches in NBA history, but he is the single greatest one when it comes to humor.

The San Antonio Spurs head coach, who is closing in on Don Nelson’s all-time record for most wins by an NBA coach, had a hilarious response on Thursday when asked what the key to his success has been all these years.

“Key to success? Draft Tim Duncan,” said Popovich, per Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News. “After that, stay alive.”

The 72-year-old Popovich has a good point in that most of his success as an NBA coach, including all five of his championship wins, came with Duncan on the roster. Since Duncan retired in 2016, Popovich has gone 225-179 (.557) as opposed to going 1072-438 (.710) with Duncan.

Regardless, Popovich, with 1,314 career wins, is nearing Nelson’s tally of 1,335 and could surpass him this season. But another key to Popovich’s success may very well be his fun-loving and carefree demeanor.

Photo: Feb 8, 2020; Sacramento, California, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich on the sideline against the Sacramento Kings during the first quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Former Spurs legend could succeed Gregg Popovich as head coach?

Gregg Popovich

After over 25 years as coach of the San Antonio Spurs, Gregg Popovich’s successor could be someone who played for him for 16 of those years.

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported on Friday that retired Spurs great Manu Ginobili has surfaced as a candidate to succeed Popovich. Ginobili recently returned to the Spurs as a special advisor to basketball operations.

“If there’s a former player who has the basketball IQ and the EQ to do it, it’s Manu,” Fischer quoted a veteran executive with knowledge of San Antonio as saying.

While Fischer adds that the Spurs may not choose a head coach with zero experience on the bench, he also notes that the similarly-inexperienced Steve Nash was chosen to lead the Brookly Nets.

Boston Celtics assistant Will Hardy and ex-Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown are also mentioned as candidates. The same goes for another Spurs great in Tim Duncan (though few believe he has any desire to pursue a head coaching career). Meanwhile, Spurs assistant Becky Hammon will likely receive her fair chance at the job as well, Fischer adds.

The 72-year-old Popovich, who has coached the team since 1996, might actually stay on to coach for a bit longer than expected. But for Ginobili’s part, he seems to have a lot of believers in his ability as a potential coach.

Team USA eyeing champion coach as Gregg Popovich’s replacement?

Gregg Popovich

It is unclear how long Gregg Popovich will continue to coach Team USA, but we may have an idea of who could eventually replace him.

Steve Kerr is considered the favorite to succeed Popovich as the head coach of Team USA, according to NBA reporter Marc Stein. Erik Spoelstra is another name to watch, but USA Basketball would likely prefer Kerr because he has prior experience with international competition both as a coach and player.

Kerr served as an assistant coach under Popovich at the Tokyo Olympics, where Team USA won a gold medal last month. He also won a gold medal as a player at the 1986 FIBA World Championship, which was the last American men’s senior team comprised of all amateur players.

Popovich is 72 and entering his 26th season as the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs. There has been talk of the three-time NBA Coach of the Year retiring, but a recent report indicated he could stick around longer than expected.

It’s possible that Popovich could step aside as the coach of Team USA and focus on his remaining time with the Spurs. Though, he certainly seemed to enjoy silencing Team USA’s critics in Tokyo.

Gregg Popovich could continue coaching for longer than expected?

Gregg Popovich

Gregg Popovich may be feeling rejuvenated after his successful summer coaching Team USA at the Olympics.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported on Wednesday that while no one is sure if the San Antonio Spurs head coach will stay beyond this season, several sources who know Popovich say that it would not surprise them if he returned for the 2022-23 campaign as well. Lowe adds that Popovich is 26 wins away from Don Nelson’s all-time record for most wins by an NBA coach but that Popovich will not be “running out the string” just to break it.

Popovich is now 72 years old and is about to enter his 26th season as coach of the Spurs. He served as the head coach for USA Basketball at the Tokyo Games this past summer and helped them bring home the gold medal.

The three-time Coach of the Year Popovich has been taking a season-to-season approach to his coaching future in recent years. If he does decide to stick around longer, Popovich is under contract for the 2022-23 season. The Spurs do not really have a pathway to short-term contention, especially after the recent departures of both DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. But it would definitely be nice to see Popovich continue to coach, even just for him to dunk on more reporters.

Video: Gregg Popovich ripped critics after Team USA won gold medal

Gregg Popovich

Gregg Popovich has been heavily criticized for some of Team USA’s shortcomings since he took over as head coach, which is one of the reasons capturing a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics meant so much to him. Popovich made that clear while addressing the team after they defeated France.

Popovich delivered a fiery speech to Team USA after they won the gold medal. He spoke about how everyone criticized the team and appeared to tear up at one point. He ended with a line that whipped his players into a frenzy.

“I’d just like to say to all those people out there: How the f— you like us now?'” Popovich said.

We saw Kevin Durant and Draymond Green rip their critics in an Instagram live video immediately after winning the gold. Green later trolled Kendrick Perkins and other analysts who doubted him and his teammates. That mentality was clearly shared by Popovich and everyone else in the locker room. Perhaps it helped motivate the Americans to turn things around.

Gregg Popovich shared cool moment with Team USA players during medal ceremony

Gregg Popovich

USA Basketball’s gold medal win was a moment of redemption for Gregg Popovich, and he and some of his players shared a cool moment during the medal ceremony.

Despite their important role, coaches themselves do not receive medals at the Olympics. Kevin Durant and Zach LaVine wanted to make sure Popovich’s efforts did not go unnoticed, and they both put their gold medals around his neck during the ceremony.

This has been a long time coming for Popovich, who was an assistant for the infamous 2004 team that only managed to win bronze in Athens. Even during the leadup to these Olympics, the coach had his skeptics, with some of them even reportedly in his own camp. The victory had to come as vindication for him.

This iteration of Team USA really enjoyed sticking it to the critics. They can find some kinship with Popovich in that regard.

Team USA players reportedly frustrated with Gregg Popovich’s offense

Gregg Popovich

Team USA Basketball lost to France in their first official game of the Olympics on Sunday despite being a huge favorite. That has led to even more questions about whether Gregg Popovich is the right person to lead the team, and there may be some frustration with the coach’s system.

USA blew a late lead against France to lose 83-76 in their first game of group play. Several players, including Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard, had poor shooting nights. According to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, players were grumbling on their way back to the locker room about “running the San Antonio offense.”

Vardon also said Popovich is “horrified” by his own coaching record with Team USA, which is now 6-3 in games that count. Team USA went 73-3 in meaningful games from 1996 through 2016.

There was no need to panic after Team USA lost exhibition games to Nigeria and Australia, and the same holds true now. They can advance to the knockout stage with wins over Iran and the Czech Republic, and they are heavily favorite in both games. Still, the pressure is mounting.

Popovich said he was more “disappointed” by Sunday’s loss than “surprised.” He has repeatedly accused the media and fans of underestimating Team USA’s opponents and not giving them enough credit.

It doesn’t matter what you want to call it. Team USA has by far the best collection of talent in the world, and for some reason that is not translating to quality play. Popovich had said the team’s offense will be based on “concepts” rather than set plays because of the limited preparation time, but apparently that is not working for players.

Durant didn’t sound all that concerned after Team USA’s two exhibition losses, as he felt they were easily explained. Popovich will have even more explaining to do if it happens again.

Video: Gregg Popovich gets testy with reporter Joe Vardon after loss

Gregg Popovich

Gregg Popovich got testy with reporter Joe Vardon after the United States lost to Australia in an exhibition game in Las Vegas, Nev. on Monday night.

Team USA has played two exhibition games in three days and lost both of them. The defeats mark the first time since pros began playing for Team USA Basketball that they have lost consecutive exhibition games.

After the loss, Damian Lillard and Popovich answered questions from the media. Popovich was not happy with Vardon for suggesting the US should be dominating their opponents more. He kept cutting off Vardon while defending the quality of the team’s opponents.

It’s true that the rest of the world has closed the gap with the US in men’s basketball. Many teams that were weak 20-30 years ago have improved drastically and become challengers. Still, in just 2016, Team USA was smashing its opponents in exhibition games by huge margins. They won the gold medal at the Olympics.

Popovich needs to get his act together. Of course, his issues with reporters are nothing new.

Gregg Popovich had must-read advice for Mike Budenholzer in NBA Finals

Gregg Popovich

Gregg Popovich had some must-read advice for one of his former assistant coaches.

Mike Budenholzer worked for the San Antonio Spurs from 1996-2013, mostly as an assistant under Popovich. He left to become the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, and then he became the head coach of Milwaukee in 2018. Now he has his Bucks in the NBA Finals and was seeking advice from Pop, who has won five NBA championships.

But Pop wasn’t too helpful. Budenholzer joked Monday that Pop told him he would have to figure things out on his own.

Yep, thanks for the advice, Pop.

Pop’s message probably wasn’t communicated to Budenholzer in a spiteful manner. Maybe Pop was suggesting that adjustments need to be made on the fly and on a case-by-case basis.

Game 1 of the NBA Finals will be played on Tuesday in Phoenix.