);
San Antonio Spurs

Spurs' head coach Gregg Popovich: "Kawhi was a great player, but he wasn't a leader"

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Kawhi Leonard, Gregg Popovich [NBA Getty Images]

When San Antonio Spurs' head coach Gregg Popovich spoke to the media before the team's game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Satuday night he briefly assessed Kawhi Leonard's leadership role, or lack thereof, with the Spurs.

Popovich was asked about the importance of Patty Mills' leadership with the departures of Leonard and Tony Parker, as well as the retirement of Manu Ginobili - he had this to say on the matter, "Kawhi was a great player, but he wasn't a leader or anything. Manu and Patty were the leaders." He continued, "Kawhi's talent will always be missed, but that leadership wasn't his deal at that time. That may come as he progresses, but Manu and Patty filled that role last year, and LaMarcus (Aldridge) came a long way in that regard also."

After spending his first seven seasons in San Antonio, which produced an NBA Championship, Leonard's relationship with the franchise had a fall out. The Spurs and Toronto Raptors agreed on a trade this Summer to swap superstars, sending DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio. The trade, from a player performance standpoint, has worked out for both teams thus far.

DeRozan has been great for the Spurs averaging 24.9 points, 6.3 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game despite their subpar 9-10 record.

Leonard has returned to his All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year caliber, averaging 24.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He has played a major role in the Raptors' fantastic 16-4 record that has them atop of the Eastern Conference.

MORE: Toronto Raptors vs. Miami Heat Game Preview

The Raptors return to action on Sunday, November 25th when they take on the Miami Heat at 6 p.m. Eastern Time.

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