Gregg Popovich Unaware of Meeting, Kawhi Leonard Trying to Return from Injury

CLEVELAND, OH - FEBRUARY 25: Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs yells to his players during the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on February 25, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said on Friday that he wasn’t aware his team held a players-only meeting after a 117-101 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves last Saturday, according to Project Spurs’ Paul Garcia

“I didn’t know about this one, but it’s not something I would address as far as you can’t have team meetings or you shouldn’t have team meetings,” Popovich said, per KSAT 12’s RJ Marquez. “They’re grown men, they want to have a meeting, they have a meeting.”

ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the Spurs held the meeting to “implore” Kawhi Leonard to return from his quad injury. 

However, shooting guard Danny Green pushed back and claimed the report was “false.” 

“The meeting, it wasn’t just about him,” he said, according to ESPN.com’s Michael C. Wright. “It was a meeting for the team. Nobody was frustrated or took anything the wrong way. We were communicating like adults. We don’t have personalities in our locker room to be coming at each other. We’re not an emotional team. So in the locker room, we don’t get emotional either. We just talk like adults.”

The San Antonio Express-News Jabari Young later reported that while Leonard told his teammates “a return was still the goal,” he ultimately “offered no set date or guarantee about a return this season.”

“I only talk about the things I know, and I know that (Kawhi) has worked hard to get back,” Popovich said on Friday, according to the San Antonio Express-News Tom Orsborn. “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.”

Leonard missed the first 27 games of the season with right quadriceps tendinopathy before making his 2017-18 debut on Dec. 12. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year appeared in nine games before being sidelined again. 

Winners of five straight, the Spurs enter Friday night’s game against the Utah Jazz as the Western Conference’s sixth-best team at 42-30. They own a one-game lead on the eighth-seeded Jazz and a two-game lead on the ninth-seeded Denver Nuggets.