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First, Gregg Popovich lost Patty Mills to the Nets, then his team eliminated him from the Summer Olympics.
Neither made the Spurs’ coach very happy.
The United States men’s basketball team’s coach didn’t want to lose, but he couldn’t help but feel for the 32-year-old Mills in what could be his Olympic finale after the US rallied from a 15-point deficit to knock off the Boomers, 97-78, to advance to Friday night’s gold medal game in Tokyo.
“I’m thrilled with the victory, obviously, but when I looked him in the eyes (postgame) I felt badly,” Popovich said. “They do have great camaraderie and history and culture and want it just as badly as any of us. That was a little bit sad, but that’s what we all do, we all try to win.”
Mills played for Popovich in San Antonio for a decade, winning an NBA title in 2014. But with the Spurs rebuilding, Mills is headed to Brooklyn on a two-year, $12 million deal, looking to win another championship. A super-sub, Mills has averaged 8.9 points on 38.8 percent 3-point shooting during his 12-year NBA career that began with the Trail Blazers, who took him with the 55th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. He should only help the Nets, giving them a quality shooter off the bench.
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“We’ve talked before about what a wonderful human being he is,” Popovich said. “He’s a really unique player. And he has been special for the Spurs, but he’s moving on to Brooklyn now and we’ll miss him a great deal.
“It’s a good move for him; playing for a team that’s going to be a contender.”
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