As the world prepares for LeBron James' next decision, the man who may have helped expedite his departure from Miami got a fat new contract of his own. The Spurs and Gregg Popovich announced in a Wednesday press release that they have agreed on a multiyear contract extension.
Terms of the contract were not publicly released, as is consistent with San Antonio policy. Teams are not required by the league's bylaws to disclose coaching salaries. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports indicated that Popovich was looking to coach another four or five years:
The Spurs are typically very good about remaining tight-lipped in regard to internal matters, so it will be interesting to see whether word leaks about a possible raise. Popovich made a base salary of $6 million in 2013-14, which is only $1 million more than first-year coaches Derek Fisher and Steve Kerr got from the Knicks and Warriors, respectively.
Given the skyrocketing prices for coaches around the league, Popovich seems more deserving of a considerable raise than any of his counterparts in basketball. The 65-year-old coach and former general manager in San Antonio has been on the Spurs bench since taking over for Bob Hill in the 1996-97 season.
The past nearly two decades have seen Popovich win five NBA championships, make 17 straight playoff appearances and provide a steady hand amid multiple stylistic and personnel changes. A headstrong personality who once had a disdain for the three-point line, Popovich has evolved from the early post-heavy stylings of Tim Duncan and David Robinson into a three-heavy, European outfit defined by beautiful ball movement.
As guard Tony Parker told SB Nation's Paul Flannery at the NBA Finals:
As the league evolved and a lot of teams score a lot of points, we had to change a little bit of our game. And before we were a halfcourt team, pass it to Timmy. But that's the beauty of coach Pop and Timmy and everybody in this organization, we try to adapt. And I think our game has arrived to a point where we can score but we can play defense. We can play any kind of style.
These Finals were Popovich's sixth as a head coach, as San Antonio atoned for one of the more crushing collapses in league history to defeat the Miami Heat in five games. After the series, there was rampant speculation about the future of stalwarts Popovich and Duncan, the remaining soldiers who have been through every iteration of this run.
Duncan opted in to his player option for 2014-15, which could be the 38-year-old's last season. His contract expires next summer, and the 14-time All-Star has openly suggested retirement could come in the not-too-distant future. With Parker's and Manu Ginobili's contracts also running out, it is fair to wonder whether the four mainstays could be preparing for one last run.
Popovich could walk away at any time, so an extension doesn't discount that possibility. But as Kawhi Leonard develops into a burgeoning star, Danny Green continues to shine as a two-way piece and Patty Mills re-ups for three years, perhaps Popovich believes in the future core as well.
It's also worth noting that Parker, 32, will probably be around a few more seasons regardless of what Ginobili and Duncan decide in 2015.
Either way, no matter what happens in the near future, it seems like Pop will be at the helm as it all plays out. Given he's one of the handful of best basketball minds the NBA has ever seen, that probably bodes well for the Spurs.
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