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Should the Spurs make moves that maximize the Gregg Popovich window?

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The Spurs’ current reality allows us to pose a divisive hypothetical: should a suddenly asset-heavy team consider making use of what’s left of one of the greatest coaches of all time?

2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup - USAB Shootaround Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

In his first piece for The Athletic, former Grizzlies GM John Hollinger focused on teams rich in assets and flexibility that could potentially take a big swing, an article that was anchored by (surprise) the San Antonio Spurs.

“San Antonio is between eras at the moment,” the Spurs section begins. “But it is well-positioned to launch into the next one if the right deal comes across R.C. Buford’s desk. No team in the league – check that, no GOOD team – has more roster flexibility right now, and thus none are in a better position to land an available All-Star via trade.”

Hollinger cites the team’s extreme cap flexibility heading towards the summer of 2021, something we’ve discussed here previously, as well as the wealth of good or promising young players on rookie deals that could allow the team to bring in the kind of star power that would help extend its run of success. “To put this in perspective,” he adds. “They could give up the same bounty the Clippers did for Paul George in one trade and still have assets left over for another.”

On Monday, Gregg Popovich jokingly reminded the media that he wouldn’t be around for another 20 years when talking about the changing of the guard at the Spurs’ GM position. While it’s no news flash, it does serve as a start-of-season reminder of how little we know about Pop’s mid- to long-term plans beyond the fact that they eventually involve taking that definitive step away from coaching the Spurs. It’s possible we never see that end coming until we’re dropped into that reality one summer day. It could be next summer or a few years after that, but either way it’s safe to assume there will be no year-long goodbye tour like various iconic players have opted for as of late.

One of the theoretical All-Stars that Hollinger comes back to in his article is Bradley Beal, a rare young talent that teams like San Antonio are typically hard-pressed to acquire, but you can swap a few names in there to help frame an argument to your preferences.

That argument being not simply should the Spurs consider packaging some youthful pieces for a star-level player, but is there an added benefit in doing so when one of the greatest coaches of all time has only so many years left.

It’s admittedly more fan fiction and philosophy than something we can realistically bat around, since the Spurs will almost always take the long view in the hopes of sustaining their winning ways, but it’s at least a posit that has a few fun layers to it. On one track, Pop represents a unique competitive advantage the Spurs should have over most teams, and giving him more to work with could elevate San Antonio in the short run to the list of teams people more readily accept as contenders in a post-Warriors NBA. Recently we’ve seen teams like Los Angeles and Houston push all their chips for the present At the same time there is the emotive argument, in which many fans would be delighted to see Pop be given a bit more heft to work with — the kind he was meant to have with Kawhi Leonard around.

There are, of course, counters to this with their own reasoning behind them. I’ll open the floor to those, as well as any reluctant advocates to this concept, in the comments.


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