Gregg Popovich Rumors
Donovan Mitchell scored 13 points, Khris Middleton added 12 and the U.S. topped Spain 90-81 on Friday night in a warmup exhibition in advance of the FIBA World Cup that starts in China on Aug. 31. The Americans shot 55 percent from the field, 58 percent from 3-point range and held a commanding 42-20 edge in rebounds. “It was a good chance to jump in the fray and see what this is all about,” U.S. coach Gregg Popovich said after his official debut as Mike Krzyzewski’s replacement with the national team. “It was like a baptism for us. New group, players, coaches, all that sort of thing. It was a real experience.”
To overcome their market disadvantages and return to the postseason, the Kings are counting on Fox to be their long-awaited culture-changer. Yet Sacramento’s challenging environment is precisely why one rival executive stressed that Fox should benefit from his time with USAB Coach Gregg Popovich and his staff. “[Fox] is a great player and great kid,” the executive said. “Structure, discipline and competition are exactly what he needs.”
So for Pop-watchers of a certain age, it’s hard to resist rewinding to the height of his reverence for the Jazz every time Popovich huddles with the budding Utah star Donovan Mitchell these days — a frequent occurrence on the U.S.A. Basketball practice floor. A picture of coach and player after a recent intrasquad scrimmage in Las Vegas, side by side and backs to the camera, slammed home the point: Mitchell has begun a six-week course of higher learning under Popovich.
“I hope so,” Jazz Coach Quin Snyder said in a telephone interview. “Both Donovan and I have been excited for this opportunity, not just the chance to compete for his country but to play for Pop. I think he has an appreciation for the fact that he’s playing for the greatest coach that’s ever coached.”
Popovich still isn’t sure what he has roster-wise, but he can point to at least one luxury as he finally settles into his dream job as Mike Krzyzewski’s successor: Mitchell’s rise alongside the All-Star guard Kemba Walker will enable the United States to field an elite starting backcourt at the FIBA World Cup in China from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15. “Just try to throw yourself completely into it,” Snyder said he told Mitchell. “And try to communicate with Coach as much as you can. Be a sponge.”
Ben Golliver: USA Basketball coach Gregg Popovich on being cut from 1972 Olympic team: “I was devastated. Anybody would be. They put me on alternate team, we went to Brazil & Argentina and partied out a—es off. I was young and foolish.”