RC Buford Rumors
Leonard’s contentious return from tendinopathy treatment comes amid reports of a strained relationship between the player and the team. Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford have denied or downplayed the tension. Leonard has not addressed the media since reports of a fissure surfaced. The true answer will likely come this summer, if and when Leonard is offered the supermax.
Spurs general manager RC Buford indicated Thursday the foot injury Manu Ginobili suffered Tuesday night in Denver wouldn’t force him to miss any time after the All-Star break. X-rays after the game were negative, and Buford indicated the same was true of an MRI. “It didn’t appear to be anything severe,” Buford said. “He got treatment, saw people and then left on his All-Star vacation plans.”
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.
In an interview with ESPN, Buford rejected the reporting of turbulence between the franchise and Leonard. “There is no issue between the Spurs organization and Kawhi,” Buford told ESPN. “From Day 1 all parties have worked together to find the best solutions to his injury.”
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.”
“The team’s done a terrific job of coming together. A lot of new players,” Buford told ESPN. “I think Pau [Gasol] and LaMarcus have obviously been significant and the contributions of other guys who have filled in and come together well. We’re obviously not the best team in the league. But the group has taken care of its responsibilities in a way that puts them in a position to win. “This is a group that has played together for a quarter of the season, and it’ll be on everybody to figure out how to play well together [when Leonard returns]. We’ll all need to learn how to play together differently. I don’t think that there’s trepidation. That’s just part of team building, growing as a team.”
So Sam Presti, then a 24-year-old Spurs scout and now general manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder, would show up at Buford’s home, after the kids had gone to bed, with a duffel bag full of VHS tapes of this young French wizard. He dreamed of finding the next great player to put beside superstar Tim Duncan. They got their man in the 2001 draft, taking Parker 28th and handing him over to coach Gregg Popovich and his sink-or-swim ways.