Sports

NBA trends: Is Popovich/Kerr ticket coming for 2020?

Gregg Popovich
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich calls out to his players during a game against the Magic on Oct. 27.
(Stephen M. Dowell / Orlando Sentinel)

What’s happening in the NBA? Check out these trending items early in the season.

Popovich/Kerr 2020

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Warriors coach Steve Kerr teamed for success previously on San Antonio’s 1999 and 2003 NBA championship teams.

So a half-playful push for a Popovich/Kerr presidential ticket should not be so far-fetched, especially considering their criticisms of President Trump and their other outspoken political and social stances

There is even a website, popovichkerr2020.com, that sells items with a Popovich/Kerr campaign logo to raise proceeds for the ACLU, Council on American-Islamic Relations, International Rescue Committee, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Union of Concerned Scientists.

“I truly would vote for Pop,” Kerr told reporters Wednesday before his team beat the Spurs on Thursday. “He would make a great president. All jokes aside, I would vote for him.”

However, Kerr also ruled out being the running mate on a Popovich ticket.

Porzingis puzzle

The Knicks exist amid a rabid New York media culture but the latest Kristaps Porzingis twist came from a Latvian magazine, Sports Avize.

Janis Porzingis, Kristaps’ brother and an agent in the sports agency that represents the Latvian star, said that it was a “well-thought decision” to skip his exit interview with former Knicks president Phil Jackson after last season. He said it was “for the sake of overall peace” and should have been done by Carmelo Anthony.

Porzingis could sign a maximum contract extension in the summer of 2019 or opt for a qualifying offer that would make him an unrestricted free agent in 2020.

“The most important question here is this: What do you really want to achieve in your career?” Janis told Sports Avize. “Because money, if Kristaps performs at least on his normal level, is gonna come. We are more focused on some other values and not just to quickly sign a new contract so we can collect the money. That’s definitely not our goal, so we won’t be feverishly counting minutes or counting points.”

Pippen: Kobe over MJ in shooting

During a commercial break of ESPN’s “The Jump,” Scottie Pippen started a debate with Tracy McGrady that wound up being replayed on air the following day.

“There is no way MJ could outshoot Kobe,” Pippen said, sparking yet another Michael Jordan-Kobe Bryant conversation. “… Kobe thrills me like Steph Curry thrills people in today’s game.”

Rubio’s revival

Once a Spanish teenage phenom, Ricky Rubio was a trade castaway in June when Minnesota wanted to pursue Jeff Teague and Utah had the salary cap space to take Rubio for what likely will be a low 2018 first-round draft pick (via Oklahoma City).

But to anyone watching Rubio closely with the Jazz, there might have been something changing in the point guard who turned 27 on Oct. 21. He averaged 16.5 points and 10.5 assists after the All-Star break last season and shot better than 40% from the field for the first time in his seven-year career.

With Utah stinging from Gordon Hayward’s exit, developments like Rubio’s scoring and rookie Donovan Mitchell make for a pleasant transition to the Ruby Gobert-led Jazz. It is extremely early for projections, but Rubio’s scoring averages and shooting percentages would be career bests. He scored 11 of Utah’s 12 overtime points in a win against Portland on Wednesday.

The Rubio reboot still has nifty passes and slick steals but his game is less recognizable, just like his now-bearded face.

Lottery changes

The location of the NBA draft lottery will be new after this season. The way the draft lottery is executed will change the following year.

The lottery will move from being either in New York or New Jersey to Chicago on May 15, the eve of the NBA draft combine that will continue to be staged in Chicago.

This is the final season of the current draft lottery format after the league’s board of governors overwhelmingly approved a wrinkle intended to remove the incentive to tank. Beginning in 2019, the teams with the worst three records will have the same lottery chance (14%) to land the No. 1 pick. Each of the other 11 lottery teams will receive slightly better chances than the past.

sports@latimes.com