Spurs’ Popovich: ‘No blame to be placed’ on Kawhi

Prior to Friday’s home matchup against the Utah Jazz, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked to discuss the well-publicized players-only meeting regarding star forward Kawhi Leonard.

After last week’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, Spurs veterans Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili reportedly led a players-only meeting asking Leonard whether he planned to return this season.

“I only talk about the things that I know and I know he’s [Leonard] worked hard to get back,” Popovich told reporters. “It’s been frustrating. You don’t think he wants to come back? You don’t think we want him back? But the fact that he’s not back, it frustrates everybody for all the obvious reasons. But there’s no blame to be placed, on him or anybody else. It’s just an unfortunate situation.

“So what we do, what we think about, we’re going to do what we’ve been doing. The guys that are playing, that’s who the team is. And if he got added to the team, well that’s great. But you have to act like it’s not going to happen because you have to be who you are. And he’s not with us right now. So this team has to have its own identity. That seems pretty logical. That’s the only way to look at this.”

Leonard has only played in nine games this season due to right quadriceps tendinopathy. He has been cleared to return by team doctors but is waiting to be cleared by his own medical staff before he returns to the lineup.

Popovich, for the record, says he didn’t know about the meeting.

“I wasn’t invited,” the future Hall-of-Famer said.