SAN ANTONIO — The date was July 7, 2016. At the time, Boban Marjanovic was a restricted free agent with the San Antonio Spurs and had recently received a three-year, $21 million offer sheet from the Detroit Pistons.
But Marjanovic wanted to stay with the Spurs.
Feeling loyal to the Spurs after they gave him his first opportunity in the NBA following nine years playing in Europe, Marjanovic had to be convinced that the logical, smart move was for him to take the job with the Pistons.
“We brought him over here (from Europe), so he felt that loyalty and everything,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Wednesday before his team lost to the Mavericks, 109-103. “But we sort of had to explain to him that loyalty only goes so far –you’ve got to take care of your family. People make decision to take care of their families.
“The offer he was getting was something we couldn’t match, and I would have felt forever guilty if I would have convinced him to stay (with the Spurs) and give up all that money. In the end I just had to say, ‘No, you’re going (to Detroit), you’re going to go. You have a family and you have to do it,’ and he begrudgingly went.”
Popovich said he would have “felt like an idiot” had he tried to convince Marjanovich to remain with the Spurs.
“Sometimes you do things because you know it’s right for the person,” Popovich said. “If you can do something that’s good for the team and the person, that’s great.
“He’s also intelligent — he’s not a dumb guy. This guy is smart as hell. But his agent had to talk to him and I had to talk to him, and I can’t remember at this point if anybody else talked to him. But he got it pretty quickly and understood that this was the logical move for him.”
Marjanvic only played the 2015-’16 season with the Spurs before jetting off to the Pistons. But he will forever, Popovich said, have a place in the heart of the Spurs.
“He’s one of the all-time great guys, and you all know that,” Popovich said. “He’s special.
“He’s a caring, loving, enjoyable upbeat guy and he’s a better player than everybody thinks, but you couldn’t ask for a better professional, a better teammate. I told him we’ll always be there for you—anything you need – and I’m sure the Mavs feel the same way about him.”
FINNEY-SMITH IMPROVING FROM DOWNTOWN: Behind some hard work, Dorian Finney-Smith’s 3-point shooting has increased in each of his four NBA seasons.
That started with him shooting 29.3 percent from 3-point land as a rookie during the 2016-17 season, then 29.9 percent the following season, 31.1 percent last year and a healthy 37.4 percent this season.
“He’s put in an awful lot of work over three-and-a-half years now,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “And it’s been great to see because guys like he and Maxi (Kleber) that are undrafted — guys that enter the NBA and then have to make adjustments — you help give them a formula and guidance.
“You give them a great shooting coach like Peter Patton, but they have to do the work and they have to believe and they have to stay with it. Dorian’s done a great job, obviously, and Maxi is in a similar situation, too.”
KOBE’S MEMORIAL: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was somber when he was asked about Monday’s public memorial for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.
“It was an amazing display of courage, especially by his wife,” Popovich said. “There were a lot of insightful, touching emotional moments in the ceremony. But I choose not to get into that.”
Bryant, Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter accident near Los Angeles on Jan. 26.
Briefly: Center Willie Cauley-Stein missed his third straight game on Wednesday due to personal reasons, and coach Rick Carlisle said he will also skip Friday’s game in Miami and Sunday’s game in Minneapolis. “I’m uncertain if he will be meeting us (Monday) in Chicago or not,” Carlisle said. “We’ll know more in the next few days.”. . . How much different are the Mavs when Kristaps Porzingis is playing center instead of power forward? “It’s still basketball,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said “How different do we look without LaMarcus (Aldridge)? It’s still basketball. You go play.”