Rest assured that Gregg Popovich and his San Antonio Spurs were always going to cope well with whatever punishments were doled out by David Stern in the wake of Restgate 2012. You can make that forecast even when so many questions raised by Stern's "substantial sanctions" remain unanswered, when no one in this league is quite sure what might be fine-worthy going forward, because we all know there isn't a better deal-with-it team in pro sports than the NBA's silver and black.
While waiting for that $250,000 fine that the Spurs ultimately incurred Friday night, wondering like everyone else about what sort of precedents will be set leaguewide now that San Antonio's bill has been sent, I found myself fixated just as much on the other big Pop story that will play out before the playoffs.
Popovich's chances, namely, of being named Team USA's next coach.
Or as conspiracy theorists would surely put it: Will the most public wedge ever driven between the commissioner and the famously stubborn coach in his league emerge as a factor that hurts Pop's chances of succeeding Mike Krzyzewski?
I so want to believe the rival GM who insisted to me Friday: "Absolutely, positively not. The league doesn't get in USA Basketball's way like it used to."
The final call on who coaches the national team, of course, belongs to USAB chairman Jerry Colangelo. As it has since 2005.
The league, though, does get to register its input, which means Stern will have some semblance of a voice in this until his Feb. 1, 2014 retirement. It's thus not much of a stretch to imagine the league (re: Stern) lobbying USA Basketball to view this whole chaotic episode, no matter how far Stern overreached, as a prime example of Pop's long-perceived reluctance to be more of a partner with the league office than he's historically been.
Let's be clear here: If Krzyzewski is really leaving the Team USA bench as he's vowed for months -- and Coach K is rightfully getting the latitude to take his time making the decision after winning his last three major competitions and his last 50 national-team games in a row -- Popovich is the clear-cut best candidate to take over. With four NBA championships over a span of 16 seasons with the same franchise, bottomless patriotism dating to his days in the Air Force Academy, copious knowledge of the international game after all the overseas stars San Antonio has imported and his unquestioned status as the most respected bench leader in the modern pro game, Pop makes infinite sense no matter what Stern thinks.
Read more at: http://espn.go.com/n...sa-coaching-gig
But really though, is the NBA really gonna taking this whole "resting fiasco" this far? And who do you think is a good candidate to coach team USA (besides Pop), since Coach K is stepping down?