There's now a fairly attractive open head coaching position down in Brooklyn after the Nets and Kenny Atkinson parted ways last weekend. Whoever takes the gig will enjoy the privilege of coaching two superstars in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. On the flip side, whoever takes the gig will take on the challenge of coaching Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
The First Take crew discussed Atkinson's surprising departure this morning, and Stephen A. Smith gave us three names he sees as the legitimate candidates for this job. Two (Mark Jackson and Ty Lue) are quite familiar and will be linked to the opening until it's filled. But the last one is a doozy. Smith wants Gregg Popovich to leave San Antonio and coach the Nets:
"There's only three candidates for this job as far as I'm concerned. Ty Lue, one of them," said Smith. "Mark Jackson. Or! If Sean Marks can get the one and only Gregg Popovich to leave San Antonio. Those are the three, and not necessarily in that order."
Max Kellerman was as shocked as the rest of us by that last name, and asked Smith to elaborate.
"I'm not saying anything other than, Sean Marks [is] closely associated to Gregg Popovich and if you can get the great Gregg Popovich to come to Brooklyn, well then that's a deal", Smith stated. "I'm not saying it's going to happen. I'm saying if I was Sean Marks, I would certainly try."
Smith was very clear that his reporter hat was not on during this segment. But what a marriage that would be. Popovich certainly has experience dealing with star players, but Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili were extremely low-key personalities by all accounts. Say what you might about the Durant/Irving combo, they are anything but low-key. How he'd deal with the pair's various idiosyncrasies would be fascinating.
It would also be quite a move as Popovich nears the end of his career in basketball. He's 71 and will turn 72 next season. He's also a man who is known to enjoy the finer things in life outside of basketball, and regularly preaches the importance of understanding that there's an entire world outside of the sphere of the NBA. Taking all that into account, retirement in the next few years isn't unrealistic. Would he want to take a leap of faith and leave his home of 24 years for one last shot at a championship?
Knowing what we do about Pop, the answer is probably no. But it sure is fun to think about.