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Gregg Popovich to still coach Team USA after Olympics postponed

Gregg Popovich

BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 14: Head Coach Gregg Popovich of USA reacts during the games 7-8 of 2019 FIBA World Cup match between USA and Poland at Beijing Wukesong Sport Arena on September 14, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

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Though Gregg Popovich is under contract with the Spurs longer, there was a belief he might use the 2020 Olympics as a last hurrah before retirement.

But the Tokyo Olympics got postponed to 2021, raising questions about the 71-year-old Popovich.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo and head coach Gregg Popovich remain committed to the team into 2021, Colangelo said Tuesday. Both men’s futures in their roles had been uncertain after this summer.

“The commitments everyone made for 2020 are still there; we’re all-in and we’re committed,” Colangelo said. “It’s important to deal with the unknowns and this virus. This too shall pass, and we’ll be back for everyone’s well-being.”

Popovich’s debut as Team USA’s head coach, in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, went poorly and
left him with regrets. (Colangelo should also hold regrets.) It’d be nice to see Popovich – who served in the Air Force and continues to show his patriotism through political engagement – win a medal representing his country. He’d clearly cherish it.

As for as stocking his team…

USA Basketball named 44 finalists last month. But they’re all NBA players, and the NBA calendar is in flux. It’s possible the NBA is holding a season during the Olympics.

Colangelo, via Windhorst:

“We will follow the leader. We have to wait to see how everything is laid out and we’ll make the adjustment,” Colangelo said. “Our players are NBA players first, let’s face that.”

NBA players are also global brands, and the Olympics are a tremendous marketing opportunity. That benefits the NBA, too.

I suspect all sides will find a workable solution. Even if the NBA playoffs are occurring during the Olympics, perhaps eliminated players could represent Team USA. Players who compete deep into the postseason are less likely to play internationally, anyway.