The San Antonio Spurs have finally embraced speed
The Spurs’ newfound tempo is a change for the better.Over the past 16 years, the Spurs finished 20th or slower in transition frequency—a stat which measures the percentage of a team’s possessions that start with a transition play—13 times. Last season they were dead last. Aside from a blip towards the beginning of this decade when they snuck all the way up to fifth in pace, Popovich has always been more comfortable grinding through the 82-game schedule, dragging opponents into the mud with an understanding that any team interested in winning multiple playoff series can not be less scrupulous than their opponent.
When it was over , Popovich asked questions. He always asks questions, and those questions are always the same: personal, direct, focused on drawing a For the Spurs , every dinner, every elbow touch, every impromptu seminar on politics and history adds up to build and reinforce a narrative: You
San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich discussing the trade of Kawhi Leonard last week.Credit Leonard informed the Spurs in June that he wanted to be traded and would leave them without Popovich , for the record, agreed to take the job only if Colangelo pledged to stay on through the
The San Antonio Spurs have not been relevant in the NBA title conversation since winning 61 games back in 2016-17. Since then, they have been disposed of in the first round of the playoffs in two consecutive seasons. Now on a downward spiral without a clear direction to move forward, it’s time for San Antonio to start over with a rebuild that does not include one Gregg Popovich.
© David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
The big picture: This is not about Pop and the success he’s had. It’s not about the Association somehow moving on from his old-school ways. Instead, it’s all about the Spurs finding a new model and a new philosophy moving forward.
Aldridge's season-high 39 lead Spur past Thunder 121-112
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Dejounte Murray had been making himself miserable in the film room. Watching turnover after turnover, he promised Spurs teammate LaMarcus Aldridge things were going to change against Oklahoma City on Thursday night. Aldridge was the benefactor of Murray's improved play at point guard, scoring a season-high 39 points to help San Antonio roll over the Thunder 121-112. "I tell him every day, you're too great of a player to just go missing in action," Murray said. "It's on me being a point guard and the rest of the team. We've got to make sure a guy like that is well-involved early from the jump.
The San Antonio Spurs ’ season is over eight wins short of the franchise’s sixth championship, swept by the Golden State How good is Popovich at coaching basketball? It ’ s so easy for him that in his spare time he’s able to provide political commentary that is far more insightful than anything heard on CNN
Logically, Becky Hammon, the first woman to hold a full- time assistant coaching position in the NBA, would have seemed to be in position to take over Instead, confusion reigned, with uncertainty about whether it was Hammon, promoted to Popovich ’ s top assistant last year, or Tim Duncan, the Spurs
Let us explain.
San Antonio heads into this week’s action with a 5-8 record. It ranks 23rd in the NBA in scoring defense and 24th in defensive rating. This is not how Popovich built his five championship teams with the Spurs.
We’re not overreacting to a slow start to one season. Instead, it’s all about looking to the future in San Antonio. And it’s bleak right now.
Western Conference: Even if the Spurs were to grab a bottom-two playoff spot in the West, they are looking at yet another early postseason exit.
- Given what we’ve seen from the Lakers, Clippers, Rockets, Jazz and Nuggets thus far this season, there’s absolutely zero reason to believe San Antonio is looking at even a mildly deep playoff run.
- As of right now, San Antonio’s top two scorers, DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, are averaging a combined 38 points per game.
- Western Conference contenders have elite defensive players that can shut down either one of these players in a moment’s notice.
- As it relates to DeRozan, that includes the likes of LeBron James, Avery Bradley, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard Paul George and Patrick Beverley from the Lakers and Clippers alone.
The roster dynamic: As currently formed, there’s very little upside on San Antonio’s roster. At the very least, not enough upside for this team to be a contender.
Report: Magic express interest in acquiring DeRozan
San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan could be on the move again. © Noah Graham / National Basketball Association / GettyThe Orlando Magic are searching the trade market for scoring and have expressed interest in acquiring the 11-year veteran, The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reports. Orlando currently ranks 29th in field-goal percentage (41.9%) and dead last in points per game (98.1).DeRozan is averaging 19.4 points on 49.3% shooting this season and would provide an immediate boost to the Magic's offense. The 30-year-old holds a $27.
It would have been better for the Spurs had the Warriors blown them out from start to finish. “In which case, the home team relaxes a little bit, feels good about “I’m disappointed,” Coach Gregg Popovich said. “The only way I can process this is I think it ’ s not about O’s or X’s or rebounds or turnovers or
DALLAS — Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs will soon become the fourth 70-year-old coach in N.B.A. history, but he remains undecided about coaching the But this season featured Popovich ’ s first training camp without at least one of three Spurs mainstays: Duncan, Manu Ginobili, who retired
- DeRozan and Aldridge are tapped out in terms of the upside they bring to the table. We’re not talking about young rising stars such as Pascal Siakam and the likes.
- That’s the biggest issue for San Antonio. The roster we see today is likely to be the best version of this team short of dramatic changes moving forward.
- If you’re not getting better, you are declining as a team. That’s the motto in today’s ever-evolving NBA, especially in the Western Conference. The Spurs are not going to get better with this current core.
Blowing it up: With all of that said, the Spurs have enough proven veteran pieces to start anew with a rebuild.
- There’s good news on this front. Both DeRozan and Aldridge can provide San Antonio with assets to start anew with a rebuild.
- DeRozan has a player option of $27.7 million next season. He’s unlikely to exercise it. Meanwhile, Aldridge is on the hook for a cap hit of just $24 million next season. That’s decent.
- San Antonio could move these two players in separate trades and bring in a combination of young players and draft pick assets for a rebuild.
- In turn, the Spurs could start a rebuild around the young group of Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Lonnie Walker as well as the assets they acquire in these hypothetical trades.
Pop’s age and the Spurs’ coaching dynamic: San Antonio would not have to look outside of the organization to find a replacement.
Did Becky Hammon make history? Gregg Popovich ejection sparks mass coaching confusion
Did Becky Hammon make history? Gregg Popovich ejection sparks mass coaching confusionInstead, Popovich picked up a pair of technical fouls for arguing with the officials early in the third quarter, leading to his ejection at the AT&T Center.
Gregg Popovich did not coach Game 3 of the Spurs -Warriors N.B.A. playoff series on Thursday night after his wife’ s death. Erin Popovich died at 67, the A cause of death was not reported, but she had been ill for some time . The Popoviches met when Gregg was an assistant coach at Air Force and
It makes all the sense they are doing this because of Gregg Popovich . Popovich , in my eyes, is the Only three five-man combos have played over 100 minutes together, with the most successful being He’s had to start 13 different players this year including the likes of Brandon Paul, Joffrey Lauvergne But, really it ’ s just Pop being Pop. It ’ s why you could see how excited he was when the Spurs won
- As has been the case throughout his historical run in San Antonio, Popovich has built up one heck of a coaching staff.
- This season, that includes head-coaching candidate Becky Hammon and NBA legend Tim Duncan. Either one would be a great option to replace the longtime head coach.
- At 70 years old, we’re not even sure Popovich would want to go through a rebuild.
That leads us to our final point: Would San Antonio be forced to keep up with this charade that includes a faux hope of contention to pacify Popovich?
It sounds harsh. But this is the professional sports world.
The bottom line: The Spurs are 5-8 on the season. They are going nowhere fast. It’s quickly becoming a bad fit with Popovich. Move on with someone like Hammon and potentially let Pop finish out his career coaching a contender or ride off into the sunset.
It really would be the best of both worlds.
Related slideshow: Every NBA head coach to win a championship (Provided by Yardbarker)
Every NBA head coach to win a championship
How much coaching matters in the NBA is a debate that will continue among die-hard followers of the product and casual fans long after you first come upon this piece. Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach and Gregg Popovich are all recognized as basketball legends and all-time coaching greats across the sports world. All three also happened to coach some of the most talented players in history. The modern Association is dominated by athletes coming together to form "super teams." By many accounts, reports and rumors, that's likely to again occur in the summer of 2019. Because of that, certain coaches currently working or looking for new jobs do not receive the respect and recognition they deserve. Perhaps the first name that comes to mind is one who helped a city end a title drought that lasted over 50 years. We now know those of us who assumed he would realign with the league's King in 2019 jumped the gun. Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images
The NBA's true "Zen Master," Phil Jackson handled rosters with superstar talents such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, among others, better than anyone en route to winning a record 11 titles as a coach. His management of massive egos was as vital as his lauded triangle offense, both of which helped him surpass all other coaches as it pertains to postseason successes. Per Basketball-Reference, Jackson still possesses the highest winning percentage among Hall of Fame coaches. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Phil Jackson won more championships as a coach than Red Auerbach, but it's the Boston Celtics icon who will forever be remembered as the greatest to do it during the 20th century. It's hardly a stretch to suggest the nine titles he won from 1957 through 1966 will never be duplicated again due to free agency, "super-max" contract extensions and other factors. As Richard Goldstein of The New York Times wrote, the Professional Basketball Writers Association of America named Auerbach the greatest head coach in NBA history in 1980. Currently, NBA Coach of the Year winners receive the Red Auerbach Trophy. Bettmann/Getty Images
At 70 years old, it's possible Gregg Popovich has already coached in the NBA Finals for the last time. The face of the San Antonio Spurs guided the franchise to five titles between 1999 and 2014, a fact we'll always cherish thanks to a gif that will live on long after he calls time on his career. As of the completion of the 2018-19 season, Pop sits third in all-time wins among NBA coaches, according to Basketball-Reference. He may retire atop that mountain if he's serious about coaching another three years. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
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As explained by NBA.com, Pat Riley took nine rosters and three different franchises to NBA Finals appearances as a head coach, and his squads won on five occasions. He hoisted what's currently known as the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy four times with the "Showtime" Los Angeles Lakers between 1982 and 1988, and he earned his fifth coaching championship with the Miami Heat in the spring of 2006. Known as a masterful motivator and for his slicked-back hairstyle, Riley has also won a pair of titles with the Heat as an executive since stepping away from coaching in April 2008. Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Before Red Auerbach built the Boston Celtics into the model NBA franchise, John Kundla won five titles from 1949 through 1954 as Minneapolis Lakers head coach, easily the first man in such a position to reach that mark. Referred to as the father of the Association's first dynasty by Steve Aschburner of NBA.com in July 2016, Kundla remains the only man in history to win championships in his first two seasons as a head coach at the highest level. Sporting News Archive/Getty Images
Is Steve Kerr a brilliant tactician or merely somebody who found a dream gig at the right time? The answer probably depends on whom you're asking at any given moment. Kerr's Golden State Warriors toppled the Cleveland Cavaliers in three of four championship showdowns during the second half of the 2010s, once when the Cavs were without both Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving (2015) and twice while having Kevin Durant in his lineups (2017 and 2018). Winning matters, of course, but Kerr likely will need to reach the mountaintop with a different group to be viewed in the same light as Popovich, Auerbach and Jackson. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
After Red Auerbach retired from the bench in 1966, the undisputed greatest coach of his era replaced himself with potentially the best postseason performer in NBA history. Bill Russell already had nine championships on his resume when he became player-coach and, as Rhiannon Walker of The Undefeated wrote, the Association's first black coach. After falling short of the 1968 NBA Finals, Boston closed the decade with a pair of titles under Russell, who went out on top with 11 championships to his name. Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Much like with Tyronn Lue, Erik Spoelstra will go underrated and even forgotten among casual fans unless he wins a championship without LeBron James. Spoelstra's Miami Heat sides that featured the King, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh emerged victorious in two of four NBA Finals appearances between 2011 and 2014. The coach hasn't flirted with returning to the last series of a playoff tournament since James left South Beach in July '14. John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Sometimes fortune smiles upon a person and squad. Michael Jordan exchanging his Air Jordans for a baseball bat in 1993 opened the door for every NBA franchise not located in Chicago, and Rudy Tomjanovich and his Houston Rockets ran through that aperture all the way to a pair of championships. In February 2019, Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle updated his argument for why Tomjanovich deserves to be in the Hall of Fame while calling Rudy T a "coach ahead of his times." Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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K.C. Jones may be the most underappreciated member of the dynastic Boston Celtics that ruled the NBA from the late 1950s through the 1960s, winning eight titles with those dominant squads. Jones added two titles to his Celtics legacy as a coach, one in 1984 and the other in 1986. As the NBA.com staff wrote, Jones never had a losing season as an NBA coach. Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
In 2017 Vito Chirco of Detroit Athletic wrote why Chuck Daly was the perfect coach to lead the "Bad Boy" Detroit Pistons to consecutive championships in 1989 and 1990. Daly not only matched the intensity of his players when arguing with officials, but he also engineered brilliant defensive schemes aimed at limiting impacts made by opposing superstars. Years later, the two-time title-winning coach explained his "Jordan Rules" to Sports Illustrated writer Jack McCallum (h/t Bleacher Report). Photo by Gary Bogdon/Orlando Sentinel/MCT/Sipa USA
Like a different coach spotlighted later in this piece, Tom Heinsohn won eight championships as a Boston Celtics star from the second half of the 1950s through 1965. He earned Coach of the Year honors for the 1972-73 campaign, and he guided the Celtics to championships in 1974 and 1976. As ESPN's Chris Forsberg wrote, Heinsohn became the fourth man voted into the Hall of Fame as both a player and coach, in 2015. Photo by Frank O'Brien/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
As of the typing of this sentence, Red Holzman still has the distinction of being the only coach to ever usher the New York Knicks to an NBA championship, a feat he accomplished twice during his Hall of Fame career. Holzman earned Coach of the Year honors for the 1969-70 campaign capped off by a Knicks championship victory highlighted by the "Willis Reed Game." New York returned to the Finals in '72 and '73, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in the latter of those two title encounters between the historic franchises. Regardless of who is lucky enough to coach a Knicks roster filled with superstars down the road, assuming big-name players sign with the organization in the summer of 2019, he'll be following in Holzman's footsteps. Bettmann/Getty Images
Per the Hall of Fame, Alex Hannum was the first coach to win both NBA and ABA championships, the latter of which he accomplished in 1969 with the Oakland Oats. Before that Hannum notched a pair of title-winning coaching seasons, one with the St. Louis Hawks (1957-58) and the other with the Philadelphia 76ers (1966-67). That 76ers side, still respected as one of the greatest in basketball history, ended Boston's eight-year reign of dominance. Bettmann/Getty Images
All things being equal, Doc Rivers taking a Los Angeles Clippers team that dealt its top scorer before the 2019 trade deadline to the playoffs may have been his finest work as a coach. Rivers' top honor in the job, though, was leading the Boston Celtics that starred a "Big Three" of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to the 2008 NBA Finals, where the Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers to win the title. As Dan Shaughnessy of Boston.com pointed out, the Celtics played in a record 26 postseason games that spring. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Those less-than-pleased with how LeBron James handled his infamous "Decision" found themselves rooting for Rick Carlisle's Dallas Mavericks — Cleveland fans called them the "Mavaliers" — to beat the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. Dallas did just that, giving Carlisle his first, and only to date, coaching title. Still with the Mavs, Carlisle is one of only 18 men to tally over 700 NBA coaching victories, per Basketball-Reference. Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
Larry Brown's coaching career was roughly 30 years old when he first led a team to an NBA Finals, but his Philadelphia 76ers fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2001 Finals. He returned to the series in 2004 with the Detroit Pistons, and that club downed the Lakers in five to give Brown his one and only Association title. According to the SMU website, Brown is the first and only coach to win both NCAA and NBA championships. Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Lenny Wilkens was a Hall of Fame playmaker and creator who, per NBA.com, was second in career assists when he retired as an active player after the 1974-75 campaign. Already a player-coach before then, Wilkens took the Seattle SuperSonics to back-to-back Finals appearances in 1978 and 1979. After coming up short versus the Washington Bullets in '78, Wilkens and Seattle avenged that defeat with a 4-1 win over the Bullets the following year. Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Paul Westhead seemed destined for greatness when he led the Los Angeles Lakers to an NBA championship in 1980, his first year as a head coach. As ESPN's Ramona Shelburne wrote in 2012, Magic Johnson grew unhappy with Westhead early into the 1981-82 campaign, and the Lakers sent him packing after just 11 games. Westhead never again returned to the Finals as a head coach or assistant. Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Billy Cunningham earned himself a spot in the Hall of Fame as a player, and he was named MVP for the 1972-73 ABA campaign. The Philadelphia 76ers great became head coach for that club ahead of the 1977-78 season, and he took the franchise to three NBA Finals from 1980 through 1983. The third time was the charm for Cunningham and Philly, as the Sixers swept the Lakers in '83 for Cunningham's only coaching NBA title. Bettmann/Getty Images
Ahead of the 1979-80 season, Bill Fitch became head coach of the Boston Celtics. Luckily for Mr. Fitch, the Celtics happened to have a rookie named Larry Bird in the lineup. The next season, Boston defeated the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals for Fitch's lone championship. In April 2019, it was announced Fitch had been elected into the Hall of Fame. Bettmann/Getty Images
As David Pincus of SB Nation wrote, Dick Motta is not, in fact, the man responsible for the "the opera ain’t over until the fat lady sings" quote. Motta is correctly and favorably remembered for guiding the Washington Bullets to the 1978 NBA title, though, and for being one of only 12 men, as of 2019, to notch over 900 victories as a coach, per Basketball-Reference. In 2015 he became a recipient of the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo by Laura Patterson/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images
Jack Ramsay, affectionately known as "Dr. Jack," is remembered by many current basketball fans as an entertaining and knowledgeable broadcaster and commentator. Before he was heard calling Miami Heat games or seen on ESPN, Ramsay coached for a couple of decades. In 1977, his Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, 4-2, to win the NBA Finals. It was the only time Ramsay coached in such a series. Denver Post via Getty Images
Al Attles played 11 seasons with the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, and he served as a player-coach for the club during the 1969-70 season. He went to being just a coach in 1971, and his Golden State Warriors swept the Washington Bullets in the 1975 NBA Finals for his one coaching title. As Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated wrote, Attles was the second African-American coach after Bill Russell to win a championship in the Association. Digital First Media Group/Oakland Tribune via Getty Images
Bill Sharman was without a doubt one of the greatest shooters of his era, particularly from the charity stripe, and he was part of four Boston Celtics championship teams from 1957 through 1961. He transitioned to coaching, and his Utah Stars won the ABA title in 1971. The next year, his Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New York Knicks, 4-1, for his one and only NBA Finals victory as a coach. His Lakers fell to the Knicks in the '73 Finals. Photo by Joe Kennedy/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Larry Costello's Milwaukee Bucks made history on multiple occasions during the 1970-71 season. As JR Radcliffe of the Journal Sentinel wrote, Milwaukee won a then-record 20 consecutive games en route to qualifying for the playoffs, and the Bucks lost only two postseason contests before sweeping the Baltimore Bullets in the Finals. Costello and the Bucks returned to the Finals in 1974, but they fell to the Celtics in seven games. Bettmann/Getty Images
After playing professionally from 1946 through 1954 for the Philadelphia Warriors, George Senesky spent three years coaching the franchise. His most successful season on the bench was his first, during which the Warriors finished the campaign with a 45-27 record and a championship following a 4-1 Finals win over Fort Wayne. He last coached in the NBA in 1958. Bettmann/Getty Images
Al Cervi completing the jump from the Rochester Royals to Syracuse Nationals, a franchise that offered him the role of player-coach, in 1948 following a spat with Les Harrison proved a wise decision. After a handful of winning seasons in the first half of the 1950s, Cervi, who stopped playing in 1953, and his Nats tasted championship glory in 1955 after defeating the Fort Wayne Pistons in a seven-game Finals series. He coached his last contest in 1959. Photo by The Stevenson Collection/NBAE/Getty Images
Lester Harrison's importance to professional basketball goes well beyond the Rochester Royals winning the 1951 NBA championship. Credited by the Hall of Fame for helping create the NBA via the merger of the BAA and NBL, Harrison also played a role in integrating pro basketball by signing William "Dolly" King in 1946. Photo by NBAPhotos/ NBAE/ Getty Images
The bulk of Buddy Jeannette's playing career occurred before the birth of the Basketball Association of America and subsequent NBA. However, he served as player-coach for the Baltimore Bullets when that club won the 1947-48 championship. Per the Hall of Fame, Jeannette was the first player-coach to win a professional title. Photo by NBAPhotos/ NBAE/ Getty Images
As explained by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Eddie Gottlieb helped create the Basketball Association of America, a precursor of the NBA, in 1946, the same year he served as owner, general manager and coach of the Philadelphia Warriors. Philadelphia defeated the Chicago Stags 4-1 to win the league's championship series under the rookie coach, Gottlieb's lone title in that role. Bettmann/Getty Images
"Blocked by James!" Kyrie Irving draining the late three-pointer over Stephen Curry. All of those "blew a 3-1 lead" memes. One probably doesn't think of Tyronn Lue when remembering the 2016 NBA Finals, but history will forever show he coached the Cleveland Cavaliers to three straight victories to win a first-ever title for the franchise. Say whatever you will about LeBron James being the alleged "real" head coach of the '16 Cavs. Nobody can ever take Lue's ring away. Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Harris, 76ers send Spurs to 8th straight defeat, 115-104 .
The Philadelphia 76ers beat San Antonio 115-104 on Friday night to hand the Spurs their eighth straight defeat. © APARC San Antonio Spurs' LaMarcus Aldridge, left, tries to drive past Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 22, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) The skid is the Spurs' longest under longtime coach Gregg Popovich. BOX SCORE: SIXERS 115, SPURS 104Ben Simmons had a triple-double with 10 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds for the 76ers, who improved to 6-0 at home.