Leonard spent seven years taking part in beneath Popovich after being drafted by the Spurs within the 2011 NBA Draft.

However his remaining 12 months on the AT&T Middle had been removed from very best as damage issues and debate over methods to deal with them brought on a rift between participant and franchise.

Kawhi Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors with Danny Inexperienced in the summertime in a deal which noticed DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first-round decide go the other method.

Leonard’s departure left a gaping gap within the Spurs’ roster they usually have gone 9-10 within the Western Convention this season.

Popovich has now admitted the Spurs have missed the 27-year-old small ahead’s high quality since his commerce.

Nevertheless, that has not prevented the veteran NBA coach from taking purpose at Leonard in the identical breath.

Popovich started by speaking up Spurs level guard and Leonard’s former team-mate Patty Mills.

“[Mills is] like our inspiration, he is an final warrior, offers the whole lot he is received on a regular basis,” Popovich stated.

Popovich then introduced Leonard’s persona into query when requested whether or not the San Antonio Spurs missed him, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker

“Nicely, Kawhi was an important participant, however he wasn’t a frontrunner or something,” Popovich added.

“Manu and Patty had been the leaders.

“Kawhi’s expertise will all the time be missed, however that management wasn’t his deal at the moment.”

Poppovich did settle for Leonard’s capacity to come back to the fore and information his crew would possibly develop although.

“Which will come as he progresses, however Patty and Manu stuffed that position for us final 12 months, and LaMarcus [Aldridge] got here a good distance in that regard additionally,” Popovich stated.

Leonard is but to come back up in opposition to the Spurs since leaving them behind for the Raptors.

He’ll go head-to-head with Popovic’s males for the primary time on January 3.

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