SAN ANTONIO — Gregg Popovich offered a guarantee Wednesday, saying that the Celtics will have success if they remain patient during the rebuilding process under new coach Brad Stevens.
Popovich, the veteran Spurs coach, offered nothing but praise for Stevens before the teams faced off at the AT&T Center, a game won by San Antonio, 104-93, saying that he even studied Stevens’s Butler teams.
“When they were on TV, I watched the game, [to] see what I could pick up, [to] see what he did, because he did such a fine job,” Popovich said.
“Yeah, and the answer was no,” Stevens said with a laugh, doubting that there was anything perhaps the NBA’s finest coach could learn from a young college coach.
“It’s a really kind thing for him to say,” Stevens added. “He’s at the top of our profession. I don’t think there’s any question about it, in a number of ways.
“I admire them greatly, admire him greatly. Us Indiana guys, we have to stick together sometimes.”
Popovich was born in East Chicago, Ind., and attended high school in Merrillville, Ind. Stevens grew up in Zionsville, Ind., and attended high school and college in the state.
Popovich didn’t think there was much he could teach Stevens.
“He doesn’t need advice from me,” Popovich said. “He’s already a good coach in his own stead.”
Popovich went on to say, “In this league, with the number of games, and as talented as teams are . . . patience is probably a big commodity, especially in someone’s situation who’s used to winning night after night after night.
“It’s a little bit different when you’re rebuilding a program, and so patience on everybody’s part is really important, and Danny [Ainge] has it and he understands the situation, and all it will do is improve as time goes on, guaranteed.”
Popovich said he was glad to see the Celtics reach into the college ranks to hire a coach who had no NBA experience.
“I think we don’t see it enough, where ownership and GMs will actually look and say, ‘Who is coaching well?’ rather than, ‘What name can I bring or what would this do or that?’ ” Popovich said.
“But actually look around the country — it doesn’t matter what level — and say, ‘This guy is doing a hell of a job right here.’ Or maybe from another country — ‘This guy is doing a hell of a job.’ Whatever it might be. And Danny did that, so he deserves a lot of credit for it.”
Stevens did note that even though he was busy at Butler, he spent plenty of time studying the Spurs.
“Though they don’t get a lot of attention maybe nationally all the time, because they’re not the flashiest [team], they get every bit of every coach’s attention in the country because they do everything that we all want our teams to do,” Stevens said.
Wallace fined $10,000
Gerald Wallace was fined $10,000 by the NBA for profane language he used in comments made to the media after the Celtics lost, 109-85, to the Rockets on Tuesday.
The veteran swingman described his team’s effort by saying, “I don’t know what the [expletive] that was, to be honest with you.”
When the league office called him Wednesday, Wallace said it first checked to make sure the quote was accurate.
“They read to me what I said and just told me, ‘OK then, well, we understand you’re having a rough season. Hope your season gets better.’ ”
Then both parties hung up.
Wallace said he was bothered by the fine, but there was nothing he could do about it. “Got to move on and watch what you say,” he said. “Hopefully, I won’t have to say nothing else like that no more [if] we can get to playing better.”
Sullinger warned for flop
Jared Sullinger received a warning from the NBA for flopping after his second-quarter collision with Rockets center Dwight Howard Tuesday.
Sullinger was trying to box out Howard, and the league felt Sullinger dramatically overreacted when he fell after being hit by Howard’s forearm.
“I tried to hold my ground, but then I felt my foot go and when I realized I was going to the ground, I sold it a little bit,” Sullinger said.
Sullinger said he watched the clip of the play, and joked that his acting skills need improvement.
If the NBA finds him guilty of committing a second flop, he’ll face a $5,000 fine. The fines increase to $10,000 for a third offense, $15,000 for a fourth, and $30,000 for a fifth. Six or more flopping violations could lead to a suspension.