There is growing speculation among league sources that Gregg Popovich plans to step down as Spurs coach after the season and have winning Olympic gold in Tokyo this summer as his swan song. Even if that is not the case, Popovich, who turns 71 this month, is not going to coach a whole lot longer.
That’s led to “who’s next?” speculation around the Spurs. One name that has come up is Kansas coach Bill Self, and the rumor comes from multiple sources. It’s conjecture based on the fact Self and Spurs CEO/GM R.C. Buford are good friends, Self has admitted he’s toyed with the idea of coming to the NBA, teams have reached out to him before.
Self emphatically shot down the idea he’d leave Kansas for San Antonio when speaking with Gary Bedore of the Kansas City Star.
“I haven’t talked to R.C. (Buford) ever about it, and he was in my wedding and I was in his. I know him pretty well and we’ve never once discussed it (job).
“Thirdly, I think it’s kind of an insult to the Spurs because they have the greatest coach maybe our sport has potentially ever known, especially NBA,” Self added. “One of the two or three best all time for sure.
“There’s absolutely zero truth to that,” he continued of rumors he’ll be Spurs coach, maybe next season. “The thing that cracks me up about some media types is the more outlandish things you can say … You grab something or throw something against the wall and hope something sticks. There’s zero truth to that. That’s not even one that would impact us positively, negatively. There’s nothing to it at all.”
This is part spin by Self. Of course he told the Kansas media he has no plans to leave Kansas — what did you expect him to say? Plus, he’s trying to recruit players to Kansas for next season, other colleges will throw out the “Self might be leaving the Jayhawks” idea to try and sway top high school players, so it’s in Self’s interest to emphatically shoot down the rumor.
Self is a smart coach who potentially could thrive in the NBA, the idea the Spurs would turn to him is not ludicrous. However, there is a Redwood-sized Popovich coaching tree around the NBA and countless people who would love the job and would come in and do things the “Spurs way.” Bring in Self and it’s going to be a change of culture, which seems unlikely in San Antonio. More likely is they promote someone from within or bring another Popovich protege back to step into those shoes.
That is if Popovich even retires.Follow @basketballtalk