Newcomer Rudy Gay is anxious to make his debut with the San Antonio Spurs, but it might take a bit longer than he expected to make his return to the court.
The former Sacramento Kings forward tore his Achilles, ending his 2016-17 season prematurely — an injury head coach Gregg Popovich has made sure to pay every bit of attention to.
“That’s just what I do,” Popovich told Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. “I’m more conservative. I’m probably going to bring him along more slowly than he’s going to want to.”
Nearly nine months of rehab has passed since he underwent surgery to repair the tendon soon after his injury on Jan. 18, but Popovich insisted to be patient with his recovery and waiting until he's 100 percent ready to go.
“We’ve already had those conversations in camp,” Gay said. “He’s trying to pull me back and I’m like, ‘No coach, I’m a basketball player. That’s what I’m here for.’”
Gay signed a two-year, $17 million deal with the Spurs this offseason in hopes to revive his career after three seasons with the Kings.
“It’s a lot different (coming back),” Gay said. “I’ve never even been in the other side of this building. I’m learning. There’s a little bit of emotions. I’m looking at the spot right now where I hurt myself. I’m just glad to be back healthy.”
Popovich questioned where exactly he might fit in the rotation when his time comes to see the floor for the first time this season.
“That’s a great question,” Popovich said. “I don’t know if he’s going to get more minutes at the three or four. We talk about it all time time. Sometimes you play big, sometimes you play small. I’ve just got to let it flow for a while and watch him play and see how people fit.”
Gay has played both forward spots throughout his career, averaging 18.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game through 30 games last season.