Kawhi Leonard hasn’t been a Spur for more than four months, but coach Gregg Popovich is still talking about the fallout between the two sides.
Leonard was traded to the Raptors in July amid drama with San Antonio as he was dealing with a lingering quad injury. Months removed, Popovich explained the decision to move on from Leonard, noting he wasn’t a leader.
“Kawhi was a great player, but he wasn’t a leader or anything,” Popovich told reporters Saturday, via USA Today. “Manu and Patty were the leaders. Kawhi’s talent will always be missed, but that leadership wasn’t his deal at that time. That may come as he progresses, but Manu and Patty filled that role last year, and LaMarcus [Aldridge] came a long way in that regard also.”
At the time of Leonard’s trade, Popovich had defended him against media reports and said Leonard was a good teammate.
“That is all ridiculous,” Popovich said in July, a day after the trade. “Kawhi was a great teammate the whole way through. He did his work, and he was no problem for anybody. … All the stories that denigrated him in that regard, that was unfortunate and inaccurate.”
Leonard, the 2014 NBA Finals MVP and two-time Defensive Player of the Year, played just nine games in his final season with the Spurs.
Since his trade, Leonard has made an immediate impact for the Raptors. He has averaged 24.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists through 14 games with Toronto.