Kawhi Leonard spent time in Beijing today with the Chinese media. Here’s what Leonard had to say about how he’s preparing for the upcoming season: “Everyone saw how it ended. [The offseason] started off slow, just rehabbing, getting back 100 percent. But obviously, just everything like I say every year. Just come back a better player, better man, better leader, and just work on my game.”
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Kawhi Leonard is back in action. Sort of. Not quite a full month after his sprained left ankle knocked the Spurs star from the Western Conference finals, Leonard has returned to physical activity. The rehabilitation process, under the guidance of the Spurs’ medical staff, has been cautious by design. Leonard has not commenced what might be considered full basketball activity, which is not unusual for this point on the calendar. “He’s done some training, but I don’t think anybody’s pushing him to get back on the floor this time of year,” Spurs general manager R.C. Buford said Monday. “It’s a good time, emotionally and physically, to take a break.”
With rest and rehab, Kawhi Leonard should fully recover from the sprained left ankle that sidelined him for most of the West finals, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich indicated Tuesday. Leonard missed the final three games of the series with Golden State after reinjuring his ankle in Game 1. “Obviously, he’s not going to do anything on it, and they’ll start rehabbing and doing what they need to do,” Popovich said. “He’s certainly not in Tony (Parker) or David (Lee’s) situation, that’s for sure.”
Paul Garcia: The Spurs just announced David Lee is out as well with Kawhi and Parker.
Chris Haynes: Kawhi Leonard (ankle) will miss his third consecutive game tonight when Spurs host Warriors for Game 4 of WCF.
On the brink of elimination, the San Antonio Spurs will likely have to play Game 4 of the Western Conference finals without MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard, coach Gregg Popovich said. Popovich told reporters that Leonard is “likely out” Monday with his injured left ankle suffered in the series opener.
Tom Orsborn: Kawhi is out tonight, per Pop. “He’s not thrilled by the decision,” Pop said. #Spurs
Melissa Rohlin: Kawhi Leonard is officially questionable for tomorrow’s game. #Spurs
Leonard did not participate in Thursday’s workout, but multiple players said they saw the forward at the club’s practice facility. “He was sitting nicely on the sidelines. It’s going well, as well as it can go,” center Pau Gasol said. “We have a good training staff. He’s working with them, and trying to get that ankle right. That’s what I know.”
Jeff McDonald: Sounds like Kawhi Leonard was in the practice facility today but didn’t do much, if anything, on the court.
Juan Vazquez isn’t letting go quite so easily. Vazquez on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Pachulia and the Warriors on behalf of Spurs season ticket holders and San Antonio card shop What’s On Second. “All we are asking from the court is that this type of behavior, that can and does cause serious injury to our team and those that love it, not be allowed in San Antonio,” said Alfonso Kennard, Jr., lead attorney for the plaintiffs.
Tom Orsborn: Pop on listing Kawhi as questionable for Game 3: “The thing that worries me is he did it again (to his left ankle), the exact same thing.”
Ben Golliver: Gregg Popovich says Kawhi Leonard (ankle) is out for Game 2 and questionable in advance of Game 3. “We won’t know until Friday or Saturday”
Michael C. Wright: As expected, Jonathon Simmons gets the start in Kawhi’s place tonight.
“The thing is, now I’ve seen all the stuff going around on social (media) and all the things people are saying, and a lot of it involves me,” Bowen said. “Well, I used to hate it when people called me dirty. I thought it was unfair when people just piggyback on what other people say. And I still do.”
“What was his intent?” Bowen said. “You can rewind something five times and convince yourself of anything. What I saw, he kept moving in that direction after he contested the shot. You know you have to let a player come down. He kept walking into that space, so, for me, that says more about the intent.”
Bowen believes he knows how he would have been disciplined had he been reviewed for such a play. “I don’t know what is going to happen to Zaza,” Bowen said, “but if that had been me, I know what would have happened: suspension.”
Shaq “Zaza Knew What He Was Doing” Kawhi Listed “Doubtful” For Game 2 |NBA Playoffs Game 1|
“It’s going to be tough,” Aldridge said of the loss of Leonard. “He’s our leading scorer and our go-to guy, but guys have to step up and try to take some of that load and try to be better out there. It’s about defense right now. We’ve got to play better defense and make less mistakes, and we’ll be good.”
Spurs general manager R.C. Buford told The Undefeated, “Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. We have to play with who we have.”
“If you take an MVP candidate off of most teams, they’re going to struggle,” Warriors forward Draymond Green told The Undefeated. “The Spurs are one of those teams that still continues to stay in the game, they still make plays to give themselves a chance to win. They are one of the few teams in this league who can lose an MVP candidate and it’s business as usual.”
Jorge Sierra: We reached out to a bunch of NBA players for their take on the Pachulia-Leonard play. This is what they answered…
“My approach to this game for 14 years that I’ve been in the league is to play hard and [give] 100 percent of whatever I have,” Pachulia said in response to Popovich on Monday after practice. “So, I don’t agree with the calls that I’m a dirty player. I’m not a dirty player. I love this game and I’m playing hard. That’s what I was taught since Day 1.”
Warriors center Zaza Pachulia sidestepped the controversy over his role in Kawhi Leonard’s injury Monday, after Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich ripped Pachulia for the incident and called him a dirty player throughout his career. “No response,” Pachulia said after his team’s practice in Oakland. “I have a lot of respect for Coach Pop and their organization, and I mean it. No comment and no response. Let’s focus on Game 2, honestly.”
Jabari Young: Mike Brown on the Zaza incident… said Popovich comments just him protecting Kawhi #Spurs #Warriors pic.twitter.com/jWPDLO5myt
Later in his session with a group of reporters, Pachulia said, “I’m not a dirty player. I love this game and I play hard. I feel bad that it happened.”
Michael C. Wright: Maybe they’re delusional, but sense I get from speaking w/sources is Spurs don’t feel like all hope is lost. They plan to battle regardless.
Jabari Young: Zaza getting prepared…sure they are telling him what to expect after Popovich comments #Spurs #Warriors pic.twitter.com/Fi2citTB7p
Mike Finger: Pop: “This is crap. He has a history.”
Fran Blinebury: More Pop: “Ask his Teammate David West what he thinks. They got into it last year.”
A league source said that Leonard would undergo an MRI on Monday morning. When the forward originally suffered the injury in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets, a source explained San Antonio’s philosophy for dealing with injuries, which dates all the way back to the early Tim Duncan years and provides something of a clue for how the Spurs might proceed with Leonard throughout this series.
The only strangeness witnessed was the fact that the training staff sat Leonard at a table and taped up the injured ankle after the game, before the forward pulled on a Spurs sweat suit and strolled out to the team bus. “I feel good,” Leonard said. “I’ll get back healthy. I have faith in my teammates, and we’re going to see what happens [in] Game 2.”
With 7:55 left in the third quarter, Pachulia switched out to defend Leonard who launched a 3-point shot from in front of the San Antonio bench. Pachulia continued moving forward while Leonard was airborne, an action that resulted in Leonard landing on Pachulia’s left foot and aggravating a sprained left ankle. “I just did what I was supposed to do and challenged his shot,” Pachulia said. “And I turned around and there was a call. I didn’t notice that he was down until I turned back. I didn’t see what happened there.”
Did Zaza Pachulia intentionally undercut Kawhi Leonard? @rodger_sherman Mark Cuban: No. That’s not how ZaZa plays
Rudy Gobert: Never saw that move before
Ben Golliver: “I just did what I’m supposed to do: challenge the shot.” Zaza Pachulia on Kawhi Leonard ankle injury
Tim Bontemps: Zaza Pachulia: “I hate anybody going down with an injury. I’m an athlete too … I know how he feels. I hope it’s nothing serious.”
Marc J. Spears: Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard will have an MRI tonight on his left ankle, a team source said.
Michael C. Wright: Doubt he plays Game 2, but Kawhi didn’t rule any thing out. Said “we’ll see.”
Mike Finger: Kawhi told me he does not think the Zaza play was dirty. Said he was just contesting the shot.
Connor Letourneau: “Zaza’s not a dirty player. … You can’t listen to people on Twitter. People are irrational.” — Durant on the play Leonard got injured on
Adam Lauridsen: Popovich on Leonard: “He hurt the same foot. We’ll see.”
Michael C. Wright: Kawhi Leonard just walked to training room. No limp, nothing on ankle. They’re taping it up now.
Adam Lauridsen: Manu on impact of Leonard injury: “Huge. We need Kawhi to create, to score.”
Anthony Slater: After Kawhi Leonard injury, Warriors outscore Spurs by 25 in final 20 minutes to win Game 1: 113-111. Curry with 40, KD with 34.
Kawhi Leonard missed the Spurs’ last game — Game 6 against the Houston Rockets during the second round — due to a sprained left ankle, but he was back in the lineup Sunday afternoon against the Warriors. Unfortunately, Leonard’s return didn’t last long, as he once again tweaked that ankle. In fact, he did it twice in the span of a few minutes in the third quarter against the Warriors in Game 1, and had to leave the game.
Connor Letourneau: So, the Leonard injury was a turning point. Warriors went on an 18-0 run after he headed to locker room.
Jeff McDonald: Leonard (sprained left ankle). Will not return, per Spurs
Ben Golliver: Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard moving very gingerly and holding his head after three-pointer. Checks out at next dead ball.
Jeff McDonald: Kawhi’s coming out again. Headed to the locker room. Can barely walk. Spurs are going to have to try and finish this without him.
Ailene Voisin: Kawhi Leonard limps into locker room. Leaves with 26 points, 8 boards, 3 assists – dominant performance. Would be a shame if he can’t play.
CBS Sports: Dirty play by Zaza Pachulia or just an accident?
Jabari Young: Kawhi limping again… chart ankle… #Spurs
Paul Garcia: The Spurs have announced Kawhi Leonard (left ankle) is probable to play in Game 1. Coach Pop already said Kawhi will play though.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: There’s strong optimism within the Spurs that Kawhi Leonard will be prepared to play Game 1 on Sunday vs. Golden State.
Marc J. Spears: Barring a Rockets miracle, Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard is expected to play in Game 1 of West Finals at Warriors on Sunday on four days rest.
Tim Bontemps: Gregg Popovich on if Kawhi fought him over sitting: “He’d rather play.” Says Jonathon Simmons will start at small forward.
Throughout Game 5, Leonard also appeared to be nursing a sore right knee, as he returned to the bench on multiple occasions to have athletic trainers tend to the injured area.
Jabari Young: Kawhi Leonard (ankle) will not play tonight in Game 6 vs #Rockets … #Spurs pic.twitter.com/68XbREjl4j
Jeff McDonald: Jonathon Simmons will start in Kawhi Leonard’s spot.
Tom Orsborn: D’Antoni knows #Spurs would remain dangerous without Kawhi: “They’ve got a bunch of weapons. They beat us in OT without him.”
Tim MacMahon: Pop calls Kawhi Leonard a game-time decision.
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August 23, 2017 | 5:12 am EDT Update
“Just felt right,” one Cavs front office source told ESPN when asked what finally led the team to settle on a deal with an Eastern Conference rival like Boston — the team they beat in the conference finals just months ago — after fielding phone calls from just about every team in the league inquiring about Irving.
There are some sour grapes on Cleveland’s end of things, of course. Not necessarily from James, who tweeted out a glowing tribute to Irving. He will be “ready at training camp no matter what,” according to a source close to James. But from others who wonder if Irving bit off more than he could chew. “I was hoping Ky was going to get to lead a team,” one Cavs player told ESPN. “See what it’s like to have the entire franchise on his back.”
Nikola Vucevic: When you wake up and just now find out about the cavs/celtics trade pic.twitter.com/OWULZA1j4B
While LeBron James is reportedly confident that old friend Dwyane Wade will ultimately join him on the Cleveland Cavaliers this coming season, some of Wade’s Chicago Bulls teammates might be happy to see him go. “The young players on the Bulls really can’t stand Dwyane,” ESPN’s Nick Friedell said on “The Jump” on Tuesday. “It’s no secret in Chicago, they have had enough.”
Speights had to settle for a one-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum with the Magic, but if he emerges as a leader for this squad and produces when given playing time, he could ink a more lucrative deal next offseason when he will be an unrestricted free agent again. “It was a weird free agency period,” Speights said. “As you know, the money kind of dried up, especially for backup big men. So for me, I figured if I’m going to play on a minimum deal, which is what I got, I might as well play for Orlando! This allows me to be close to home and around my family. I also feel like there’s an opportunity to play and contribute in Orlando. I’m not exactly sure what my role is going to be yet – I can only control what I can control – but I’m going to do whatever I can to help this team. That’s my mindset entering training camp and the season. It’s on the coaching staff to determine my role. But I love to hoop, so I’ll enjoy every minute I’m out there.”