Storyline: San Antonio Spurs Turmoil?

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The Spurs, though, have a difficult decision on their hands. Do you invest the richest contract in franchise history for a player who didn’t exactly rush back to play this season and who has missed a ton of games over his career? In his first six seasons, Leonard missed 78 games. This year he was out 73. That’s nearly two full seasons of games missed in seven years. “Don’t you have to sign him,” asks one rival executive. “From what I understand, he wants (Gregg) Popovich to lighten up a little with practice and tweak some things. The Spurs may not want to change their ways, but this is Kawhi Leonard we’re talking about.”
1 year ago via ESPN

Here’s Spurs coach Gregg Popovich discussing the players-only meeting regarding Kawhi Leonard: “I only talk about the things that I know, and I know he’s worked hard to get back. It’s been frustrating. You don’t think he wants to come back? You don’t think we want him back? But the fact that he’s not back, it frustrates everybody for all the obvious reasons. But there’s no blame to be placed, on him or anybody else. It’s just an unfortunate situation. So what we do, what we think about, we’re going to do what we’ve been doing. The guys that are playing, that’s who the team is. And if he got added to the team, well that’s great. But you have to act like it’s not going to happen because you have to be who you are. And he’s not with us right now. So this team has to have its own identity. That seems pretty logical. That’s the only way to look at this.”
1 year ago via ESPN

Rift between Kawhi Leonard and Spurs?

Months of discord centering on elements of treatment, rehabilitation and timetables for return from a right quadriceps injury have had a chilling impact on San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard’s relationship with the franchise and coaching staff, league sources told ESPN. Under president and coach Gregg Popovich and general manager RC Buford, the Spurs have a two decades-long history of strong relationships with star players, but multiple sources describe Leonard and his camp as “distant” and “disconnected” from the organization.
1 year ago via ESPN

Buford described a frustrating process of rehabilitation for what has been an elusive solution to an injury. “This has been difficult for everyone,” Buford told ESPN. “It’s been difficult for Kawhi. He’s an elite level player. It’s been difficult for the team, because they want to play with a great teammate. And it’s been difficult for our staff. Historically we’ve been able to successfully manage injuries. This rehab hasn’t been simple and it hasn’t gone in a linear fashion.”
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July 22, 2019 | 2:10 am EDT Update
Quinn Cook: I think that’s a big reason why they wanted me to come here, just the fact that I’ve been on a championship team. I contributed on a championship team, playing well at key moments in the Finals and in big playoff moments and things like that. I think that’s a big reason why they wanted me. And that is a big reason why I wanted to come here too. With my experiences over the last two years, I know there’s no better feeling as a basketball player than to play well at the highest level and on the biggest stage. That was definitely a big reason why I wanted to come to the Lakers. It’s an amazing opportunity and I’m just blessed to be part of a great organization with so much winning tradition. And I’m still young, like you said, so I just want to keep learning from all of these vets who I’ll get to play with.
Harden cited a friendship that goes back to the Boys and Girls Club days in Los Angeles, telling an 11-year-old among the children gathered at the event that he and Westbrook have been friends since they were his age. “It works,” Harden said. “It’s that trust factor. I trust him; he trusts me. And with the group that we already have and the things we already accomplished, it should be an easy transition for him to be incorporated right in and things are going to go.”
Griffin routinely calls the Pelicans “Jrue’s Team” and even said Holiday can be a Most Valuable Player candidate this season, despite never making an All-NBA team in his previous 10 seasons. “He’s never really had a team to lead,” Griffin told SiriusXM radio. “When you’re as good as Jrue is, what makes you take the next step is your vision of self, and sometimes you need to be given permission to dominate people. In his situation with Anthony (Davis), he was always waiting, because it was Anthony’s job. “And now Jrue knows it’s his job, and he’s ready to do that.”
Quinn Cook: He’s always been a great, reliable vet and mentor to me. I know I can always rely on him. Like I said, he and Kobe were two of my favorite players when I was growing up, so it’s sort of surreal to even have a relationship with him. Playing against him in the Finals was a dream come true for me. Now, getting the chance to be his teammate again is great and another dream come true. I’m really excited for this opportunity. I know he called [the front office] on my behalf to help get me over here to the Lakers, so I’m very appreciative of that. Ever since I’ve been in Los Angeles, we’ve been working out together and staying in contact. I just think I’m very blessed, and I’m very thankful to have this relationship with LeBron.