Tension between Gregg Popovich and Kawhi Leonard ultimately led to the San Antonio Spurs trading the latter to the Toronto Raptors.
Everyone knows what happened next.
Leonard led the Raptors to an unlikely championship, became a free agent, and promptly left Toronto for the Los Angeles Clippers. That last move triggered a famously hilarious revenge scheme from Raptors team President Masai Ujiri.
DeMar DeRozan, who was sent to the Spurs in return for Leonard, found the whole thing much less funny.
In the years that followed Leonard’s departure from San Antonio, many wondered if he’d ever consider playing for Popovich again. Particularly since Popovich is set to coach Team USA Basketball the Tokyo Olympics, which Leonard is set to participate in.
This week, Leonard decided to end the speculation once and for all.
When asked whether he’d play under Popovich for Team USA this year, the Clippers star offered a blunt response.
“My plan is to go,” he told Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “If I feel up to it and feel ready to go around that time, then I’m going to play.”
The main thing that may preclude a Leonard-Popovich reunion isn’t bad blood – it’s bad timing.
Klay knows how to do Valentine’s Day right. https://t.co/Gxt1gRLTX2
— Game 7 (@game7__) February 15, 2021
If the Clippers end up making the NBA Finals this year, they could potentially not end their season until July 22. The Tokyo Olympics start a mere one day later and Team USA suits up for its first game against France on July 25. That’s a tight window.
While it remains to be seen whether Leonard will ultimately end up playing for Popovich in the looming Olympics, it’s good to know that the pair’s relationship is now in a place where the prospect of teaming up once more isn’t out of the question.