San Antonio Spurs head coach Greg Popovich has seen a lot over his storied, Hall of Fame worthy career, but Kawhi Leonard’s quad injury isn’t something he has seen before.
“Never, never,” Popovich said about the nagging injury that has kept Leonard out of action this entire season.
“What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”
However, Popovich said he thinks Tony Parker will be back “very soon”. Parker suffered a ruptured left quadriceps tendon last season during the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets.
“For real, sooner than later. And I’m serious. I’m being honest” Popovich explained.
Popovich has replied “sooner rather than later” when discussing Leonard’s potential return.
“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said with a smile. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”
During Leonard’s absence, forward Kyle Anderson has stepped up.
“We’re not surprised at all” Popovich said of Anderson’s performance. “He’s just had a hard time getting minutes with Kawhi at that spot. He’s always been a good basketball player. I just haven’t given him the minutes that he’s gotten this year. When Kawhi does come back, I’ve got some figuring out to do, because he should still be on the court somehow or other. He’s really taken advantage of the time, for sure.”
Spurs’ Rudy Gay Says Team Has Chip on Their Shoulder
San Antonio Spurs veteran forward Rudy Gay says that DeMar DeRozan won’t be the only player on the team that will be playing with a chip on their shoulder or having something to prove this upcoming season.
“That’s the thing about this whole team – everybody has a chip on his shoulder,” Gay said, according to Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News.
“His is just more publicized. But, look, I’m healthy (and have something to prove), LaMarcus (Aldridge) always finds some way to have a chip on his shoulder. Jakob (Poeltl) wants to prove he can be a great player. DJ (Dejounte Murray) has a chip on his shoulder because he wants to be known as one of the best at his position.”
DeRozan may have the biggest chip of any player on the team when considering he was blindsided by his trade from the Toronto Raptors earlier this offseason, a move that left the veteran feeling betrayed.
San Antonio could surprise some people this season, as they aren’t discussed among the teams that are Western Conference playoff caliber teams, and that omission could fuel the fire for the team this upcoming season.
Spurs’ Rudy Gay Raves About Team Culture
Gay’s perspective on the situation is unique, and he lauds the Spurs organization and team culture.
“The best part about San Antonio, they do right by you,” Gay said, according to Dom Amore of The Hartford Courant.
“They do right by their players, do right by their staff. That doesn’t happen much in the NBA, to be honest with you. It doesn’t happen much.
On one side, there was [Leonard] that was trying to get out, get to a bigger market, and they were totally being up front with him, and then they trade him for a guy [Demar DeRozan] where, that organization wasn’t being up front with him at all.
So, I mean, it’s just night and day. That trade right there shows you the difference between the San Antonio Spurs and other organizations.”
Raptors President Masai Ujiri Apologizes for ‘Miscommunication’ with DeMar DeRozan
“I had a conversation with DeMar at summer league, and I really want to leave it at that,” Ujiri said Friday, according to ESPN.
“We spoke … I think maybe my mistake was talking about what we expected going forward from him. So, not necessarily talking about a trade but what I expect from him going forward, and I think that’s where the gap was.”
DeRozan has maintained that he was lied to by the organization as he met with team officials in Las Vegas during Summer League play and believed he would not be traded.
“In my job, I always have to assume we’re going forward with the team that I have” Ujiri said.
“If there was a miscommunication there, I do apologize to DeMar and his family and his representation. It’s not what I meant.”
Ujiri says that the opportunity to land Leonard was too good to pass up.
“When you have a chance to get a top-five player, which doesn’t come very often, I think you have to jump on it,” he said.
Ujiri also addressed reports that state Leonard has no interest in playing in Toronto.
“(Leonard) didn’t express a lack of interest to not play in Canada to me,” Ujiri said on Friday. “A lot of these things are everybody has their own opinion about everything. … I haven’t gotten that sense from Kawhi Leonard or his people, and I’m going to give him that chance when we meet face to face.”
“I’ve had conversations with Kawhi, with his agent, with his uncle and everything has gone well,” Ujiri said. “I look forward to meeting with them face to face, and that’s our responsibility … to figure it out and to make them as comfortable as possible. … I’m confident. I think we have a good game plan, and we’ll see how that goes.”
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