NBA Rumor: Gregg Popovich Retirement?

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While the 70-year-old signed a three-year contract extension in April, he’s also widely known to be taking a year-by-year approach to this stage of his storied career. As of now, a source said Popovich has given no indication to the organization that he won’t be back next season. Yet whenever he steps away, whether it’s after he coaches Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics this summer or sometime thereafter, there’s one name that continues to come up from league sources as a possible replacement: Bill Self, the longtime Kansas coach and close friend of Spurs general manager R.C. Buford.

A quick note as a backdrop here: A source with knowledge of the Spurs’ thinking is quick to make it clear that this monumental choice will be, first and foremost, about what’s best for the organization and not based solely on personal relationships. Still, it’s worth monitoring and chronicling the deep ties here. What’s more, there has been one potentially significant development since Self found himself addressing these rumors when they first surfaced back in April: His program is under investigation for NCAA violations, and all of a sudden it’s fair to wonder if now might be the perfect time for him to take on a new challenge. Again, of course, that’s all depending on Pop and what he wants to do.

Robinson also said he was glad to hear that Gregg Popovich reportedly plans to return for a 24th season as the Spurs coach. Robinson said he remembers the uncertainty regarding Popovich’s future after his wife, Erin, died in April 2018. “I went to the funeral they had up at the Air Force Academy, and that’s tough, I don’t care who you are,” Robinson said. “Pop has always been a rock for this franchise and you almost never see him flinch. But I don’t care who you are, that’s a tough thing to go through, so you don’t know how people are going to react. But I think it’s been a great thing for him to coach. It’s been a new family for him. And I am happy that he is coming back. He is fantastic.”

At Staples Center last week, there was a pregame conversation among some of my fellow media members about whether Popovich is still enjoying himself. There was even a suggestion that he’s mellowed over the past few seasons. His once infamous in-game interviews have seemed a bit blander and straighter of late—but, mercifully, that doesn’t mean he’s lost his lovable edge entirely. After the Spurs fell to the Lakers later that evening, someone asked Popovich what made LeBron James so hard to stop in the fourth quarter.
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After his 14-footer over Taurean Prince bounced twice on the rim and out, James noticed Jason Hillman, the Cavs’ basketball chief of staff, sitting in a group by the baseline with the rest of the Cavs’ front office and clapping to celebrate the errant shot, sources told ESPN. “I felt like he was just a little bit too excited about seeing me miss,” James said afterward, declining to name Hillman when asked who caught his attention. “He was really excited about me missing that shot. A little bit more extra than I would have liked. But he’s got to root for his team, obviously. And he was, he showcased that. “So I knew I had another quarter, and the fourth quarter’s my favorite.”
After the carnage was over, with James going 9-for-10 from the field, hitting a 3 from the Cleveland “C” logo at center court and a couple more daggers from the outside while adding two assists, two steals and two blocks, all his former team could do was acknowledge James’ greatness. “Doesn’t take much to get Bron going,” one Cavs source told ESPN of the brief exchange James had with Hillman, with the four-time MVP shooting an icy stare in Hillman’s direction before making his way to the Lakers’ bench. “He was unreal tonight.”
Jokic is shattering his own record for playmaking usage from a center and is fifth in the league among players with at least 500 minutes, behind, among others, another mold-breaker in Draymond Green. While not strictly related to the rise of the Big Man playmaker, the shift to getting offense initiation from all over the floor is finally starting to allow for a change I had thought we’d see much sooner: the rise of the smaller scoring guard. For a long time, a certain category of prospects has been dismissed as “two-guard game with point guard size.” This critique made a lot of sense when nobody over 6-foot-4 could reliably dribble or run a pick-and-roll. But with those sorts of skills far more widely dispersed, it’s no longer a necessity for the smallest players on the floor to excel in those areas.
So far this season, he is attempting 7.7 FTA/100 possessions, only a slight increase from the 7.2 FTA/100 and 7.5 FTA/100 he has managed the last two years. Considering his lower overall usage, this actually represents a decent uptick. During his rookie season, Simmons drew shooting fouls on around 11.1 percent of his shot attempts. During the next two seasons, this rose to around 16.6 percent in each season. So far this year, Simmons is drawing fouls on 20.6 percent of his shot attempts, according to NBA play-by-play data, indicating that even if his role has decreased, he has been more consistently aggressive with the ball in hands, coming much closer to the ideal style of play for his skill set.