Just when we thought all the Spurs-Kawhi Leonard drama was put to bed, Gregg Popovich went and stirred the pot.
Here's the tea: during the pre-game media session
ahead of the team's matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night, Popovich opened up about Leonard and how he fit into the team's dynamic.
"Well, Kawhi was a great player, but he wasn't a leader or anything," he told reporters. "Manu and Patty were the leaders."
Popovich's take on Leonard wasn't all negative.
"Kawhi's talent will always be missed, but that leadership wasn't his deal at that time," Popovich continued. "That may come as he progresses, but Patty and Manu filled that role for us last year, and LaMarcus [Aldridge] came a long way in that regard also."
came after a reporter asked about Patty Mills' leadership now that Manu Ginobili is retired, Tony Parker is with the Charlotte Hornets and Leonard with the Toronto Raptors.
After a Toronto win against the Miami Heat, Leonard responded to Popovich's comments on Sunday.
"It's just funny to me, because I don't know if he's talking about last year or not," Leonard said
. "I guess when you stop playing, they forget how you lead, but other than that, it really doesn't matter. I'm here with the Raptors, and I'm focused on this season and not what's going on on the other side."
Popovich's line that "leadership wasn't his deal at that time" may be referring to Leonard's seeming return to his All-Star self once he was traded to Toronto. He played just nine games with the Spurs last season due to a quad injury, but has been a dependable force for the Raptors this season. Before his injury and all the drama that came with it, many expected Leonard to assume the quiet, but influential role that Tim Duncan held during his career.
Leonard will return to the AT&T Center on Jan. 3 when the Spurs host the Raptors.
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