Gregg Popovich admits feeling ‘like an idiot’ for not bringing Boban Marjanovic back after rookie season
As part of a recent interview with The Athletic, San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich admitted that he had regrets about trading Serbian big man Boban Marjanovic after his first season with the Spurs.
Marjanović signed a one-year, $1.2 million contract with the Spurs in July of 2015. At 7-4, he’s a mountain of a man, and it quickly became evident that his talent was on the rise. Following the 2015–16 season, however, he became a restricted free agent, which meant the Spurs would have to match offers from interested teams.
Ultimately, Popovich and his staff decided to let Marjanovic walk. He received a three-year, $21 million offer sheet from the Detroit Pistons. The Spurs declined to match.
It was a tough decision for coach Pop, but he felt that Boban deserved more than what San Antonio could offer at that time.
I felt like an idiot (when we didn’t re-sign him after his rookie season). Sometimes, you do things because you know it’s right for the person. If you can do something that’s good for the team and the person, that’s great. But he was, we brought him over here so he felt that loyalty and everything. But we sort of had to explain to him that that loyalty only goes so far. You’ve got to take care of your family, and people make decisions to take care of their families.
The offer he was getting was something that we couldn’t match, and I would have felt forever guilty if I would have convinced him to stay and give up all that money. In the end, I just had to say, “No, you’re going. You’re gonna go. You have a family. You have to do it.” And he begrudgingly went.
He’s also intelligent. It’s not like he’s a dumb guy; this guy’s smart as hell. But his agent had to talk to him, and I had to talk to him. I can’t remember at this point if I had anybody else talk to him, but he got it pretty quickly and understood that this was the logical move for him. We told him, we’ll always be there for you, anything you need and I’m sure the Mavs feel the same way about him. He’s been great.
Nowadays, Boban suits up for the Dallas Mavericks. He made 44 appearances with the team this season (five starts), racking up averages of 6.6 points on 57.3 percent shooting and 4.5 rebounds. Unfortunately, though, the Mavs were eliminated from this year’s playoffs after falling to the Clippers in the first round, 4-2.