Prior to Saturday's game in Milwaukee, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked about the importance of point guard Patty Mills leadership following the resignation of Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard's deal with Toronto.
"Kawhi was a great player, but he was not a leader or anything," Popovich told reporters Leonard, the 2014 NBA Finals MVP and two-time defensive player of the year. "Manu and Patty were the leaders, and Kawhi's talent will always be missed, but that leadership was not his deal at the time." That could come as the game progresses, but Manu and Patty took over that role last year, and LaMarcus [Aldridge] came a long way in this regard as well. "
Leonard is expected to return to San Antonio on January 3, when the Raptors face the Spurs at the AT & T Center.
In exchange for DeMar along with Danny Green sent to Toronto DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a sheltered 201
During Leonard's rehabilitation process, his relationship with the Spurs was strained The parties did not agree on the various elements of recovery and the different schedules for return. He called for a trade in the summer, and the Spurs finally agreed.
Before Leonard became one of the NBA's best two-way players and a multi-year MVP nominee, the Spurs had hoped to take on a bigger role, especially after Tim Duncan's exit from the franchise market In 2016 as a leader,
Leonard actually took steps in that direction, and he was often one of the first Spurs to appeal to games after Duncan retired when media spokesman addressed
But after Leonard in Game 1 The 2017 Western Conference finals suffered an ankle injury that forced him to miss the entire series and told the team shortly before the training camp that he was working on the quadriceps question. From that point on, Leonard was removed from the organization, sources told ESPN.
Nevertheless, Popovich Leonard defended in the summer against any allegation that he was not a good teammate.
"That's all ridiculous," said Popovich at the time. "Kawhi was a great teammate the whole way, he did his job, and he was not a problem for anyone – talking heads out there need to have a story, if I was a talking head – maybe it was me – I'd have stories too All the stories that denigrated him in this regard were unfortunate and inaccurate. "
The Spurs made some significant changes during the offseason and lost the longtime point keeper Tony Parker and Ginobili and Kyle Anderson as a freelance agent at the Memphis Grizzlies signed.
All changes left behind a certain leadership gap that Mills and Aldridge had adopted.