Gregg Popovich was asked Saturday about the importance of Patty Mills‘ leadership following the departures of Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili, with the longtime Spurs coach delivering a straightforward answer on the matter.
“Kawhi was a great player, but he wasn’t a leader or anything,” Popovich said, according to ESPN’s Michael C. Wright. “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.”
The Spurs traded Leonard and Danny Green to the Raptors in exchange for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first-round pick this summer, ending a seven-year run for Leonard with the team. Leonard grew as a player and teammate in San Antonio, receiving two All-Star selections and a Finals MVP.
Popovich called him a “great teammate” this past offseason and appreciated his contributions, but it’s no secret who the leaders on the team were during their time together.
There’s more out of the Western Conference today:
- Derrick Rose is happy with the Timberwolves‘ play since Jimmy Butler was traded, as relayed by the Chicago Sun-Times. “I think the ball movement, everyone being on the same page, and the new pieces that we have, like they’re for the team,” Rose said. “They’re professional, great dudes, and that’s what we needed.’’ Minnesota traded Butler and Justin Patton for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round pick in early November.
- Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News examines what’s wrong with the Jazz, who have started the 2018/19 season with an 8-11 record. Utah was one of the NBA’s most surprising teams last season, finishing the campaign with a 48-34 record.
- Shaquille Harrison holds no hard feelings toward the Suns after being cut by the team before the season, Gina Mizell of The Athletic writes. “I’ve always taken that with me,” Harrison said. “You just never know what’s gonna happen, how things are gonna shake out. I just looked at it as an opportunity for me. It ended up working out for me. I looked at things as everything happens for a reason, so it was purposeful.” Harrison, now with the Bulls, played 18 minutes against Phoenix on Wednesday.