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Spurs HC Gregg Popovich jokes about trading Rudy Gay

Rudy Gay

The San Antonio Spurs ended up standing pat at Thursday’s trade deadline. Just before 3:00 p.m. EST came and went, though, Gregg Popovich had some fun with Rudy Gay, suggesting he was lobbying general manager R.C. Buford to ship the veteran swingman out of San Antonio.

“I walked by Rudy at breakfast this morning and said, ‘How much time do I have left before I can get rid of your butt?'” Popovich recalled before his teams’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, per Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. “LaMarcus said, ‘You got 46 minutes, Pop.’ Just to have fun with it.”

It’s a good thing Gay apparently understood the sarcasm in Popovich’s quip. If there’s any player on the Spurs’ roster who knows how quickly a trade can materialize, it’s Gay. He was dealt from the Houston Rockets to the Memphis Grizzlies two weeks after being selected with the eighth pick of the 2007 draft, and was traded twice in the span of 10 months in 2013 – first from the Grizzlies to the Toronto Raptors, then from Toronto to the Sacramento Kings.

The 12-year veteran signed with San Antonio as a free agent last year, coming off an Achilles tear that ended his 2017 season prematurely. Gay has quietly emerged as one of the league’s most pleasant surprises since, shooting career-high from the field and three-point range this season while consistently flashing the explosive athleticism that was a hallmark of his early playing days.

The Spurs, sixth in the West at 32-24, just couldn’t afford to lose Gay. Popovich’s joke, then, didn’t only elicit some much-needed laughs on a day fraught with tension but reiterated how important Gay is to San Antonio’s recent success. Win-win.