They talked about Gregg Popovich and his JV team in the league office on Wednesday, and they cracked a few jokes.
"Pop is the leading candidate," kidded one, "for employer of the month."
NBA execs left it at that. They didn't call the Spurs on Wednesday to protest, and they didn't consider a fine, because there was nothing to say.
So the issue became nothing more on Wednesday than a part of the usual ESPN debate shows, albeit with a twist. Usually everyone complains when they have to watch the Spurs play. This time, they complained when they had to watch them sit.
They wanted to know if Popovich had done a disservice to the Nuggets fan who paid $90 to see a showdown of divisional leaders, and the answer is clear. Yes. The NBA should hope others don't copy this, and so should Spurs fans.
But the league is probably safe from such a future. Popovich is one of the few coaches who so casually trades a loss in February for the promise of more.
This time, he may have traded a head-to-head edge that could affect playoff position. Kenyon Martin was out with the flu, and Chauncey Billups left with a sprained ankle, and the Spurs still had a lineup made for October.
From my point of view, Popovich has a pretty good track record, and he's a lot closer to the team than I am, so he has every right to give some guys a night off. Duncan is no longer a young pup, Ginobili is once again banged up (bruised hip), and Parker is logging heavy minutes and pushing the tempo whenever he can.
But on the other hand, had we held home court against the Hornets last spring, we quite possibly could have wrapped that up in less than 7 games, which definitely would have helped against LA.
As we all know though, first we have to make the playoffs, which gets a little bit tougher to do in the West with each passing year. I'll take the silver lining in it all, with our team newbies (Hill, Mason) getting some quality minutes, and playing quite respectably.
What are your thoughts? Should Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker have played (never mind Finley)?