After missing the playoffs for the first time since 1997 ,the San Antonio Spurs have entered a rebuilding phase. 18 games into the 1996-97 season, head coach Gregg Popovich took over a really good team whose record didn’t entirely tell the whole story. David Robinson was hurt and Tim Duncan was on his way.
But now there is no David Robinson returning from injury or Tim Duncan to get in the draft. Popovich is going to turn 72 years old in January, making him easily the oldest coach in the league. His time in the NBA may be coming to an end soon, and if he wants to win another title, his best chance isn’t in San Antonio.
Jackson Gatlin: If Gregg Popovich were to leave the San Antonio Spurs, there’s not a single other team in the NBA that is as ready-made title contender like the Rockets are. If Gregg Popovich were to leave the Spurs, wanted to leave that rebuilding situation in San Antonio and wanted to give it you know, two, maybe three more years to compete for a couple more titles, what other situation would be better than the Houston Rockets?
One, Pop’s right down the street. Literally just a few a few hours drive away from San Antonio. So it’s not like he would be completely uprooting his life, he’d still be able to probably visit family and spend time with them, that kind of thing back home. So there’s that. On top of that, Pop’s relationship with James Harden is well documented; the two really, really have a great rapport with each other. And the idea of a James Harden led Gregg Popovich coached team, in a way you almost think of Gregg Popovich as a potential third star in that lineup with Harden, Russ, and then Popovich, that’s the impact that he has as a coach. There’s very few coaches out there that you would consider almost as necessary to a team as a star player, but Popovich is absolutely one of them.