Zeller’s last NBA action came when he appeared in four games for the Memphis Grizzlies last season. The former North Carolina star had his best seasons with the Boston Celtics from 2014-2017. He averaged 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game during the 2014-15 season.
The Spurs are fighting for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, though the odds are stacked against them. They’re currently four games behind the No. 8 seed Memphis Grizzlies, but three teams separate San Antonio and Memphis in the standings. With only eight regular season games being played, the Spurs will need to win most of their matchups and get a lot of help.
Hardy is only 32, but he has served as an assistant on Popovich’s staff for the past four seasons. He has been with the Spurs for a decade in various roles, having first worked in the team’s basketball operations department.
The Knicks have some big names on their short list of candidates, so Hardy and Hammon are long shots to land the head coaching gig. Still, their involvement in the process is a reminder of how much respect Popovich’s staff has around the NBA.
Tim Duncan goes down as one of the greatest players in NBA history, but Shaquille O’Neal thinks the San Antonio forward’s legacy isn’t quite as great as it seems.
Duncan and the Spurs are credited with winning five NBA championships. O’Neal doesn’t think the 1999 title should completely count.
The 1998-1999 NBA season was shortened due to a lockout that resulted in a 50-game regular season. The Spurs went 37-13 in the regular season and mowed through their opponents in the playoffs, only dropped two games. Duncan’s Spurs even swept Shaq’s Lakers in the second round.
Shaq thinks that title deserves an asterisk.
“I would tell Mr. Duncan this to his face: you have four rings. It says you have five, but the asterisks don’t count. It’s not a real season. I’ll tell all of San Antonio to its face: you only have four,” Shaq said on The Big Podcast.
The Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs were among the first teams to tip off after news came through of Kobe Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash, and they paid tribute to him in an amazing way.
After winning the tip, Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet simply stood near the timeline and let the shot clock run down, taking a 24-second violation as a nod to one of Bryant’s jersey numbers. On the ensuing Spurs possession, Dejounte Murray did the same as the crowd rose to its feet in a standing ovation while chanting Bryant’s name.
This is a really cool and well-conceived tribute by both teams, and it might be worth replicating in other games. It’s a really neat and respectful way to pay tribute to one of the most influential basketball players of all time. Given how the rest of the basketball world is feeling, expect to see more things like this throughout the NBA.
More Larry Brown Sports coverage of Kobe Bryant’s death:
Many believe that it is only a matter of time before Becky Hammon becomes the first female head coach in NBA history, and we saw a great example of why she deserves a shot during the San Antonio Spurs’ win over the Miami Heat on Sunday.
The Spurs were leading 105-100 with 1:28 left in the game when DeMar DeRozan committed a foul on Jimmy Butler. It appeared the foul was committed well before Butler was in the act of shooting, but he was awarded a continuation on the play and the basket counted because of a goaltend. That would have cut San Antonio’s lead to 105-102 and put Butler at the line for a free throw, and it initially looked like Gregg Popovich was not going to challenge the call.
However, Hammon stepped in and was persistent in convincing Pop he had nothing to lose by challenging. The head coach agreed and asked for the play to be reviewed, and it was overturned.
huge assist here from Becky Hammond…she convinces Pop to challenge Jimmy Butler’s AND 1 continuation in tight game with one minute to play. Pop originally says no, then says yes. Spurs win challenge, points taken off board, and eventually win game. pic.twitter.com/CRlf2kaJDP
Butler made both free throws to cut the lead to three, but he could have cut it to two had the original call stood. In a game the Spurs won 107-102, that turned out to be a critical play.
Some are saying Hammon is only getting credit for the role she played in that sequence because she is a female, which may be true to some extent. That doesn’t make it wrong, as it further showcases why she deserves consideration as a head coaching candidate. Hammon obviously has a high basketball IQ and has earned the respect of Popovich, who is one of the greatest coaches of all time.
Gregg Popovich may view the New York Knicks as “unprofessional” for prying Marcus Morris away from them, but the Knicks apparently feel they are even with San Antonio.
Prior to the opener on Wednesday night between the Spurs and the Knicks, Popovich took a shot at New York for going after Morris, who had agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal with San Antonio in free agency. The Spurs even traded Davis Bertans to make room for Morris, who later signed a one-year deal with the Knicks for more annual money ($15 million).
The San Antonio Spurs consider DeMar DeRozan to be an important part of their core for as long as Gregg Popovich continues to coach the team, and they are looking to sign him to a long-term deal before the season.
DeRozan’s can opt out of his current contract after the upcoming season, and Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that he has had discussion with the Spurs about signing a max extension. The 30-year-old become eligible this summer for a max extension that would pay him roughly $140 million over four years. He is currently in the fourth year of a five-year, $139 million contract he signed with the Toronto Raptors, and it includes a player option for the 2020-21 season that would pay DeRozan $27.7 million.
While a new four-year deal would average $35 million per season and represent a significant raise for DeRozan, the thought of becoming a free agent when the salary cap jumps even further could appeal to him.
Charania reports that DeRozan appears to have improved his shooting this summer, and the belief is that he will benefit from having a full offseason to further familiarize himself with Popovich’s system. DeRozan averaged 21.2 points, 6.2 assists and 6.0 rebounds in his first season with the Spurs last year, but he may have been holding back a bit at times in an attempt to conform to the system. If the Spurs value him enough to sign him to a max extension, they may give him more freedom to play his own game going forward.
There has been some talk about the San Antonio Spurs potentially looking to trade DeMar DeRozan this offseason, but that seems unlikely to happen. In fact, they could end up committing to him long term rather than moving on from him.
The Spurs have not ruled out the possibility of offering DeRozan a maximum contract extension prior to the 2019-20 season, according to Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News. While his team certainly is not going to be favored to win the Western Conference, Gregg Popovich is apparently happy with San Antonio’s current roster and is not looking to make any major changes like trading DeRozan.
DeRozan, whom the Spurs acquired when they traded Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors, averaged 21.2 points, 6.2 assists and 6.0 rebounds last season. It doesn’t make sense for the Spurs to enter a rebuilding phase while Popovich is still their coach, and they reportedly explored the possibility of adding an established veteran before the NBA Draft. An extension for DeRozan would be less surprising than a trade.
In a statement announcing the hiring, Popovich contributed a typically hilarious quote about Duncan’s return.
The San Antonio Spurs today announced that Will Hardy and Tim Duncan will be added to Gregg Popovich’s bench as assistant coaches. “It is only fitting, that after I served loyally for 19 years as Tim Duncan’s assistant, that he returns the favor,” said Popovich.
Duncan retired in 2016 and has remained with the Spurs in a behind-the-scenes role, but this will put him back on the bench at Popovich’s side. At the time of his retirement, Popovich offered Duncan free reign to coach in whatever capacity he wanted, and now he’s getting a more prominent spot in the organization.
The San Antonio Spurs agreed to a deal with Marcus Morris in the first week of free agency only to have him back out and sign with the New York Knicks, and you can probably guess how Gregg Popovich’s team feels about the situation.
One NBA general manager told Frank Isola of The Athletic that the Spurs are “pissed” that Morris did not honor the verbal agreement they had in place with him for a two-year, $20 million deal. He instead signed a one-year, $15 million contract with the Knicks, and that came after San Antonio created more cap space by trading Davis Bertans and having free agent DeMarre Carroll tweak his deal. While there are no rules against what Morris and the Knicks did, it is certainly frowned upon.
The Spurs and Knicks have a rivalry that dates back to when there was some bad blood when the two teams met in the 1999 NBA Finals, and Isola was told by a source close to the Morris situation that New York considered it a “small victory.” There’s a belief that they were happy to pull one over on the Spurs because they think some members of the San Antonio organization made illegal contact with Kristaps Porzingis when he was still playing for New York.
Morris has a right to change his mind, but you don’t see things unfold that way often in NBA free agency. It’s no surprise it has likely negatively impacted the relationship between the Spurs and Knicks.