Two things are conventional wisdom around the NBA regarding the Spurs: 1) Gregg Popovich, 73, isn’t going to coach the Spurs for many more years; 2) The Spurs will hire his replacement from within the Spurs family tree.
In his latest newsletter, Marc Stein speculates about how much longer Popovich will coach and then throws an unexpected name into the next coach rumor mill.
If you pressed me, I would (cautiously) stick with the idea that Popovich, who turned 73 in January, coaches the Spurs for at least one more season, knowing how much he still loves (and needs) to be in the gym. Yet I reserve the right to change that answer if Utah’s Quin Snyder becomes unexpectedly available. More and more, I hear Snyder’s name as a potential Pop successor that the Spurs would naturally relish. Snyder, of course, established himself in the NBA after his college years by coaching the Spurs’ G League team in Austin and is in Year 8 with a Jazz team trying to find a measure of playoff success befitting its consistently outstanding regular-season play under Snyder.
There’s a lot to digest there. Let’s break it down a little.
• Only Gregg Popovich knows when Gregg Popovich will retire, and even he may not know the answer right now. Popovich — the winningest regular season coach in NBA history — can coach the Spurs as long as he wants. They are not pushing him out the door.
• The Spurs coaching tree is vast, but some potential great fits — Mike Budenholzer in Milwaukee, Ime Udoka in Boston — are not leaving their current gigs, not even for the chance to follow Popovich. Still, San Antonio will have good options when the time comes.
• The idea that Snyder might become “unexpectedly available” stems from this: Nobody is sure what happens next in Utah if the Jazz again get bounced early in the playoffs. With a new owner in Ryan Smith, who brought in Danny Ainge to head basketball operations, there is a sense around the league that if things don’t go well for the Donovan Mitchell/Rudy Gobert core this season, big changes are coming. Maybe those changes include Snyder. Maybe not. But everything is on the table.
• Does Snyder want to leave Utah?
• Snyder is believed to be under contract for at least one more season in Utah after this one, possibly more. He signed a multi-year extension with the team back in 2019.
• If not Snyder, then possible coaches for the Spurs include Brett Brown, Mike Brown, Becky Hammon, Jacque Vaughn, Tim Duncan (a longshot, but he was an assistant for a season), among others.