Legendary mentor Gregg Popovich has completed his five-year stint as coach of Team USA. So of course, the question now is who should succeed him. One of the names being tossed around is Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
Obvious candidates would be Popovich’s deputies in the Tokyo Olympics, namely Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce, and Jay Wright. But perhaps unknown to many, Spoelstra also had a key role in helping Team USA prepare for the Summer Games. He was the coach of the Select Team that played several tuneup games against Team USA.
It was Spoelstra’s first stint with the program and given his track record, he could be Popovich’s successor. In fact, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Spoelstra was named as one of the possible candidates since new Team USA general manager Grant Hill doesn’t want to look too far.
A source told The Undefeated a current NBA coach with previous USA Basketball experience would likely be hired as the next coach of the team. Other possible candidates with USA Basketball coaching experience include the Philadelphia 76ers’ Doc Rivers, Atlanta Hawks’ Nate McMillan, Phoenix Suns’ Monty Williams, New York Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau, and Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra. Another potential candidate is former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy, who has coached USA Basketball in qualifying play in recent years.
Team USA defended the gold medal in the Summer Games for the fourth straight time, redeeming the embarrassing 7th place finish in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. So clearly, if Erik Spoelstra gets selected as Gregg Popovich’s replacement, he will have big shoes to fill.