Gregg Popovich wants his beleaguered squad to know Kawhi Leonard is not about to walk through that door.
The San Antonio Spurs‘ uncharacteristic losing woes continued Friday with a 122-119 road loss to the Denver Nuggets for their fourth consecutive defeat. In the midst of their skid, reports also surfaced that Leonard is apparently choosing to sit out in search of secondary medical opinions on his mysterious quad ailment, despite having already been cleared.
But Popovich, who also conceded he would be surprised to see Leonard back on the court at all this season, now wants the 14 other full-time members of San Antonio’s roster to learn to steady the rocking ship without their 26-year-old superstar.
“We’ve pretty much been that way, but this is the last 23 games of the season,” Popovich told ESPN’s Michael C. Wright following the loss to the Nuggets. “It doesn’t do any good to be wishing and hoping that somebody’s going to be added, and save the day, and all that silly stuff.
“These guys have got to go play for themselves and do what they do.”
Even longtime floor general Tony Parker, who recovered from his own quad issue earlier this season, believes the team is better off assuming Leonard is done for the year.
“We should have that attitude that he’s not going to come back, that’s for sure,” Parker said. “At the same time, we’re still going to be hopeful and positive. That’s just human.
“But at the same time, you have to be realistic.”
Luckily for the Spurs, their recent slide hasn’t cost them in the standings, as they still sit third in the Western Conference – exactly where they were when a loss to the Golden State Warriors kicked off their four-game skid.
They have, however, lost some cushion in the table. Two games are now all that separate them and the New Orleans Pelicans, who currently occupy the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.