San Antonio Spurs

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich weighs in on blockbuster trade with Raptors

Kawhi Leonard and Gregg Popovich (Getty Images)

The blockbuster trade that will send San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to Toronto in exchange for DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl puts an end to months of speculation surrounding Leonard.

As various reports and rumours can be put to rest (for now), Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich spoke about the trade in a Wednesday afternoon media session.

Popovich, who began coaching both Leonard and Green in 2011, reflected on their growth over the past seven seasons:

"Kawhi obviously worked very hard to become the player he is, our staff worked very hard to help him get there. We wish him all the best as he moves on to Toronto. I think that he's going to be great.

Danny Green will be missed, he's been here quite a while, and he was a big part of what we do both on and off the court. He was a great community guy, and we're going to miss him very much."

The three-time Coach of the Year also mentioned that Kawhi "just wants to play basketball" and that he "doesn't care about money." Whereas Kawhi could've signed a $221 million extension with the Spurs this offseason, the most the Raptors can offer him next summer is $190 million over five years.

In response to Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News, Popovich did not hesitate to refute claims that Kawhi was a poor teammate during his time in San Antonio.

"That's all ridiculous. Kawhi was a great teammate the whole way through. He did his work, he was no problem for anybody … All those stories that have denigrated him in that regard were unfortunate and inaccurate…

Kawhi conducted himself wonderfully while he was here. He helped us win a fifth championship … he was a hard worker all the time and we wish him well. At this point, it's time to move on…"

In moving on, Popovich shifted his focus to DeRozan and Poeltl, the two players San Antonio acquired Wednesday morning, adding that he's "concerned about Jakob and DeMar and our basketball team and putting that together."

Popovich, who has worked with DeRozan during their time with Team USA, was delighted at the thought of incorporating the four-time All-Star into the Spurs' system: "With DeMar coming to San Antonio, I couldn't be happier. I think this trade is going to be good for both teams."

This positive outlook from a head coach that has won five NBA titles should be encouraging for both franchises.

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