Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said injured superstar Kawhi Leonard is “gonna be back sooner rather than later” as he recovers from a right quadriceps injury, Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News writes. Leonard has not played this season due to the injury but the Spurs have performed well — they currently sit in third place in the Western Conference with a 9-5 record.
San Antonio has relied heavily on role players while Leonard recovers. Popovich explained the Spurs’ need to operate as if Leonard does not exist because other teams will not feel sorry for their temporary loss. Thus far, at least, the team has made good on that goal.
“A team just has to play in a sense like he doesn’t exist,” Popovich said. “Nobody cares if you lost a good player, right? Everybody wants to whip you. So it doesn’t do much good to do the poor me thing or to keep wondering when he is going to be back or what are we going to do. We have to play now, and other people have to take up those minutes and we have to figure out who to go to when in a different way, and you just move on.”
Below you can find additional news coming out of the Southwest Division:
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News estimates that there’s a 90 to 110% chance that Nerlens Noel will wear a different uniform next season. While the Mavericks like his upside, the former Sixers big man has seen limited action this season.
- As Nene sits with an injury, Tarik Black has stepped in as a defensive force for the Rockets, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes.
- Rajon Rondo‘s return on Monday was leaked just before game time and the veteran guard is happy to be back after missing the Pelicans‘ first 13 games, William Guillory of NOLA.com writes.