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The Starting 5: The Summer of Pop

The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet

1. Against his will, Popovich now a lifer — Buck Harvey, San Antonio Express-News

Gregg Popovich has always had a full life outside of basketball and resisted being painted as just a coach; he’s no Tom Thibodeau. But despite his best efforts, Popovich, 66, finds himself committed to coaching for several more seasons as San Antonio has built something too historic to walk away from. Buck Harvey has a great piece on Pop’s quiet acceptance of being an NBA “lifer” and why it was just so hard too walk away from the Spurs.

2. Gregg Popovich, Danny Green, And The Phone Call That Saved A Career — Travis Hale, BBALLBREAKDOWN

A phenomenal read from Travis Hale detailing Danny Green and Gregg Popovich’s unique relationship. Green had basically fallen out of the league after being cut several times by the Spurs and a desperate, humble voicemail to Popovich reforged the partnership that’s flourished in San Antonio. It may have shocked some when Green settled well below his market value to return to the Spurs, but that bond between player and coach was too strong.

3. Jimmy Butler demanded money up front, and other NBA stars should too — Danny Leroux, Sporting News

It raised a few eyebrows when Jimmy Butler forfeited about $2 million over the life of his contract to receive a $4.6 million signing bonus. Danny Leroux does a fantastic job detailing why this decision by Butler wasn’t quite as simple as it may look. The bonus money is pulled from each year of the deal, but Butler gets it up front. If he invests it well, it could be worth more in five years. Furthermore, if there’s a lockout in 2017, Butler already received a small percentage of potentially forfeited salary in his bonus. It’s a clever decision and Leroux makes a compelling case for other players to follow suit in the future.

4. We told you NBA free agency would be weird — Paul Flannery and Tom Ziller, SB Nation

Paul Flannery and Tom Ziller trade thoughts on a wild, wild NBA free agency period. The Pacers have seemingly reshaped their entire identity, but are they ready to play successful small ball? Toronto is preparing for a similar transition, though it remains to be seen if DeMarre Carroll can play big minutes as a power forward. They also discuss the Spurs big summer, Cleveland’s spending spree and the Clippers’ surprising haul.

5. Scoring Efficiency by Touch Frequency — Ian Levy, Nylon Calculus

Even when we adjust shooting percentages, it’s difficult to parse out how usage should be taken into account. Ian Levy does a great job visualizing the relationship between half-court touches and scoring efficiency and finds some interesting results. Many players (Levy’s example was Bradley Beal) fall about where we would expect, but some don’t. Most notably, Russell Westbrook scored at a rate far higher than what could be expected based off his usage. Let Russ be Russ.

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