Report: Popovich “unquestionably No. 1 choice” to be next USA coach

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Jerry Colangelo — the USA Basketball chairman and ultimate decision maker on who replaces Mike Krzyzewski as the Team USA coach —  was on SiriusXM NBA Radio Tuesday and said this about who will land that job:

“Odds are that it will be a professional coach.”

The smart money has long been on the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich to be the man. While any decision on the next USA basketball coach is a year away (at least), the feeling is Popovich will get the job, reports Ken Berger at CBSSports.com.

The Spurs’ five-time champion coach is “clearly, unquestionably the No. 1 choice,” according to a person involved in the coaching business. “There really is no second place.” Not only is he the most accomplished and respected current NBA coach, but Pop also checks several other boxes that Krzyzewski and Colangelo will no doubt consider in identifying possible successors. (Yes, both men will have most, if not all the say in who gets this gig.)

For example, Krzyzewski told ESPN that he believes it would be a plus for his successor to have international coaching experience. Popovich does that one better; he has international espionage experience as a former Air Force intelligence officer! He also has served as a Team USA assistant and has international experience as a player.

There are only a handful of guys who can be considered for that job because that coach needs to be someone elite players are willing to play for during their off-season. Also, he needs to be able to rise above the petty politics of agents and shoe companies lobbying for certain players. Popovich certainly qualifies (John Calipari, not so much).

Around the NBA, there is a sense that they would like to see an NBA coach in that seat. If it’s not Popovich, Doc Rivers is a name I have heard mentioned, but in this report Berger says his star has faded a little with USA Basketball. It is possible someone like Billy Donovan or Brad Stevens could rise to that position, but they are not there yet.

This should be Popovich’s job, there isn’t another choice nearly as good.