The Brooklyn Nets have yet to conclude their now months-long coaching search and even as the team battles in Orlando, they will be working behind the scenes to make their next hire.
According to reports around the league, they are eyeing Spurs coaching legend Gregg Popovich as a candidate. His basketball genius and leadership cannot unquestioned, as he has proven with the Spurs over the last two decades, but how much of a fit is the 71-year-old coach with the newest NBA superteam?
In an article by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, he explains why it is not only possible but could also be the perfect pairing.
“It’s not hard to imagine Gregg Popovich, now 71 years old, at a crossroads. In other words, the Nets should make a run at a coaching legend. This idea isn’t coming out of nowhere. There’s been speculation around the league about Nets owner Joe Tsai considering a huge offer to Popovich, who is already the NBA’s highest-paid coach. Whether it’s legitimate or not won’t be answered for some time since Popovich still has to coach the Spurs through the Orlando bubble, and the Nets have their own restart to navigate.”
This summer in particular offers an intriguing opportunity for both sides that may never appear again.
Popovich, to be clear, has every reason to be happy in San Antonio. He runs the show, and he’s built enough equity in a small market to operate with impunity. But the Nets offer a unique challenge and championship opportunity for a coach in his career’s twilight.
For Brooklyn, it’s close to a no-brainer. Tsai’s net worth has only risen during the global pandemic because he’s invested in Alibaba, the Chinese version of Amazon. He can afford an expensive coach. The roster is begging for a leader who can command respect from Kevin Durant and Irving. Popovich could own the room by simply throwing out his rings, but he’s too self-aware and self-deprecating for such a stunt. One of Popovich’s best traits is his understanding that the players won those championships. Phil Jackson didn’t get that.
It's no secret that both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have rather large personalities, and this similarity is probably what bonded them together in the first place. There are very few (if any) coaches who can reign in and earn the ear of both players in the locker room. But if any such coach does exist, none may be better suited than Pop.
Still, it's a tense situation because neither Popovich nor the Spurs have expressed interest in a split and there's no telling if he even wants to continue coaching at all.
The Nets may have to look elsewhere for their search but if Pop becomes available at any point in time this offseason, you can bet Brooklyn will be the first to get in line.