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Rumor: Gregg Popovich wanted to keep Kawhi Leonard away from team

Kawhi Leonard, Gregg Popovich

The saga of Kawhi Leonard’s offseason decision has been a conundrum of multiple reports detailing what the relationship between the 26-year-old star, his infamous uncle, and the franchise have held during the past season.

A report by longtime journalist Peter Vecsey suggests that head coach Gregg Popovich tried to keep Leonard away from the team at all costs after his uncle; Dennis Robertson, had been on his ear throughout the injury.

“Keep him away from us,” Popovich would say, according to Vecsey’s source via Sam Amico of AmicoHoops. “Apparently, Leonard’s uncle had been “poisoning (Leonard’s) mind against everyone.”

The rift between Robertson and the organization is well-documented by an earlier report from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Michael C. Wright, though there is no mention of Popovich’s involvement in the matter, other than some believed resentment from the organization for taking Leonard’s health out of the hands of the franchise.

This “poisoning” came in the way of Robertson having “convinced Kawhi the Spurs’ medical staff were more concerned with the team’s best interests, not his.”

The tension between the two is believed to be enough to make some suits convinced a trade is imminent. As an opposing Western Conference executive told Vecsey that “San Antonio’s hoary Holy Grail has lost its luster. I’m convinced Kawhi will be traded, but it’ll be to an Eastern team.”

Leonard is eligible for a supermax contract extension this summer, but the future of the entire roster (veterans included) will be based on the team’s willingness to extend that offer or seek assets in return for his services.