The San Antonio Spurs have yet to officially sign coach Gregg Popovich to a new contract. When that does take place, though, he will remain the NBA's highest-paid coach.
Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, once Popovich formally commits to return for season No. 24 in San Antonio, he is expected to sign a three-year deal with the team. Popovich made it clear on Monday that he and the team were negotiating a contract -- news that was a marked change for a coach and team that both value privacy regarding transactions.
Additionally, Wojnarowski reports the deal Popovich signs won't change the fact he will continue to take his coaching future on a season-to-season basis. The team's ownership believes that Popovich is entitled to manage his future how he wishes.
Popovich's last contract, a five-year deal, ran out with the Spurs' Game 7 loss to the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs, Wojnarowski reports.
Popovich has 1,245 wins, third-most in NBA history behind Don Nelson and Lenny Wilkens, and is one of five coaches to win five NBA championships. He will coach USA Basketball in the FIBA World Cup in China this summer, and will coach the Americans in the Tokyo Olympics next summer should the team qualify.
The Spurs have reached the playoffs the last 22 seasons, a streak that ties for the longest in NBA history.
Many doubted the Spurs would continue that streak this season with all the turmoil and turnover.
A year ago, Kawhi Leonard played in only nine games while nursing a right thigh injury. Reportedly upset with how his rehabilitation was handled, Leonard forced his way out of San Antonio in the offseason and was sent to Toronto along with Danny Green in a trade for DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl.
The Spurs also lost Manu Ginobili to retirement and Tony Parker left the team in free agency along with veteran Kyle Anderson.
“I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest,” Popovich said Monday. “I didn’t know how this group would respond to that kind of adversity, but they showed us a lot in continuing with the program and trying to do what we wanted them to do. So, that was very impressive to me.”
San Antonio had eight new players on its roster this season, the most in Popovich’s tenure. That turned out to be one of the highlights for the veteran coach.
“It was kind of one of the more enjoyable seasons because you got to see people develop,” Popovich said Monday.
If that wasn’t enough to overcome, the Spurs also lost starting point guard Dejounte Murray to a season-ending knee injury in the preseason and his replacement, Derrick White, missed the first month with a knee injury.
In one four-game stretch, the Spurs lost three games by 30-plus points; in Popovich’s first 1,758 regular-season games as coach, the Spurs had only lost by 30-plus five total times. Of course, they also won five straight games by 25-plus points for the first time under Popovich and ended up seventh in the Western Conference as DeRozan and veteran LaMarcus Aldridge helped carry the team’s young roster.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.