Kevin Durant aims high: he wants Popovich! in the nets

Sean Marks likes Vaughn but the stars, Kyrie and Durant, prefer a coach with more names. Durant already wanted Popovich in OKC.


The Raptors finished on the fast track (4-0) with the Brooklyn Nets season, the team that made the most noise with the Clippers last summer (Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving ...) but one whose season has been disappointing. They knew they would not have Durant, who broke his Achilles tendon in the fifth game of the last Finals, with the Warriors, but physical problems have also haunted Kyrie, coach Kenny Atkinson left and the team reached the bubble of Florida without its two big stars and without DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie, Taurean Prince and Wilson Chandler.

At Disney World, however, the New Yorkers played very well, signed a creditable 5-3 at the seeding games and planted as much face as they could against the fearsome Raptors. The passage through the bubble has been very positive for Jacque Vaughn, the coach who took over the team after the departure of Atkinson and who has made a roster play with motivation, chemistry and intelligence. That has convinced general manager Sean Marks, who is committed to Vaughn's continuity on the bench ahead of a 2020-21 season in which expectations will be much higher, with the Irving-Durant couple already on track.

Joe Tsai, the owner of the Nets, wants to take it easy on the process of choosing the ideal coach to turn into a winning project a franchise that comes from very difficult years and a long and brilliant rebuilding (work by Marks and Atkinson) after the failed bet on Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. And he knows that the ideal would be to have a high profile coach, a name of weight in the NBA who assumes legitimate stripes from day one in a locker room where there will be pressure and that it will not be easy to manage with two superstars of character. unstable. But the owner is not the only one with that vision, which right now does not square with Marks' preferences: Durant and Kyrie also bet on a coach with a long history and name. And the list is now public: Jason Kidd, Ty Lue (who some see as the best placed right now), Jeff Van Gundy ... and, yes, Gregg Popovich.

Popovich is the favorite of the Nets stars, especially Kevin Durant. Shams Charania (The Athletic) says that the forward already wanted Pops in the Thunder in 2015 (Billy Donovan ended up arriving) and that the Nets will make at least one attempt to sign the legendary coach, who at the age of 71 assured that he did not plan to retire later that his Spurs were left out of the playoffs for the first time since 1997. Of course, no one in the NBA seems to give options right now that Popovich leaves the Spurs, the franchise in which he has worked for 26 years. Not even the option to qualify for the ring as soon as he lands with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant seems like enough hook to get a coach who is also the United States coach out of Texas.

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