San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is sending out words to the wise on media day.
"I probably shouldn't say this, but I'll say it anyway. What the hell," Popovich said on Monday on the unofficial start of NBA training camps.
He leaned closer to the microphone to make sure his point was heard properly.
"Nobody here should go to Vegas with the thought of betting on us to win the championship," he said. "And I know somebody will say, 'Gosh, what a Debbie downer. There's a chance. What if they work really hard?' It's probably not going to happen."
Popovich on the Spurs youth: “Nobody here should go to Vegas with the thought of betting on us to win the championship…probably not going to happen, but that’s not the point.” #Spurs #KSATsports #PorVida pic.twitter.com/u2JjHStXEQ
— RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) September 26, 2022
The Spurs are dead-last favorites to win the NBA Finals at Bet MGM. They're listed at +50000 alongside seven others teams. They are +2500 to win the West, again tied for last. And they sit alone at +2500 to win the Southwest Division.
The payoff could be huge for any better, but it's a long shot. The Spurs are coming off a 34-48 (.415) season and edged the Los Angeles Lakers for the 10th and final playoff spot in the West. They lost in the play-in tournament.
There weren't any splashy additions in free agency. Instead, the Spurs are clearly in a rebuild and focused on developing young talent to compete. That's unlikely to happen within one offseason. Popovich said it's "not the point" to win it all right now.
"Very honestly, I could[n't] care less," Popovich said. "You all know what I care about. So I won't bore you to death. But the point is to develop this group and give them the best possible opportunity to have long NBA careers and enjoy the hell out of it. And whoever comes after me will have an opportunity to take them to the next level. So at this point the job is really [to] start them out the right way, just like a new baby. Giving that baby all the nutrients it needs to develop properly in the best environment. So that's our goal. Everything else will take care of itself. Whatever success we might have will come from that."
If we're riding this metaphor out, a down season could mean another baby in the Spurs bassinet. Finishing out dead last as Vegas books predict will mean a better chance at winning the lottery and adding a No. 1 pick to their environment. That's a good goal.