Gregg Popovich opens up about Kawhi Leonard trade: 'It's time to move on'

Yahoo Sports
With the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4896/" data-ylk="slk:Kawhi Leonard">Kawhi Leonard</a> saga over, Gregg Popovich addressed the media about Leonard’s trade to the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/tor" data-ylk="slk:Raptors">Raptors</a> and the new players on the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/sas" data-ylk="slk:Spurs">Spurs</a>. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
With the Kawhi Leonard saga over, Gregg Popovich addressed the media about Leonard’s trade to the Raptors and the new players on the Spurs. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Kawhi Leonard-DeMar DeRozan trade was an unexpected Wednesday morning blockbuster. Once the news had a few hours to sink in, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich addressed the media about Kawhi and his trade to the Toronto Raptors.

As you’d expect, Coach Pop was optimistic and honest during the 25-minute press conference — well, as honest as he could be, considering his relationship with Leonard wasn’t always the best. He took some time to reflect on Kawhi’s past and future with the Raptors, and was particularly complimentary of Danny Green, who is also going to the Raptors as part of the trade.

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“Kawhi obviously worked very hard to become the player he is and our staff worked very hard to help him get there and we wish him all the best as he moves on to Toronto. I think he’s gonna be great. Danny Green will be missed. He’s been here quite a while and was a big part of what we do on and off the court. He was a great community guy, and we are going to miss him very much.”

But as much as he’s going to miss Green (and also probably Leonard), Popovich is pretty excited about what the future holds for the Spurs. Via

“With DeMar coming to San Antonio, I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “DeMar is a four-time All-Star, an All-NBA player and he has been great in the community there, a team player, somebody I have respected and watched play for a while now and we are thrilled to have him here. Jacob is a young talent that I think has a great opportunity to develop into a very good NBA player.

“So, we are very anxious to get them involved in the program and let them know how we do things. They will become important parts of the program.”

Popovich knows that people will always want to hear about the conflict between him and Kawhi, but he’s ready to focus on the new players the Spurs just got from the Raptors (DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl) and completely move on from the drama of the past.

“Kawhi conducted himself wonderfully while he was here. He helped us win a fifth championship and was a hard worker all the time. We wish him well, but at this point, it’s time to move on. I’m concerned about Jacob and DeMar and our basketball team and putting that together.

“We have a lot of young kids and it’s exciting. But in no way, shape and form does it do any good to go back in time and talk A, B and C. It’s time to move on.”

Kawhi will be playing on the opposite side of the country — and literally in another country — and that should help everyone move on to the next chapter of their careers.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter at @lizroscher.

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