San Antonio Spurs News

San Antonio Spurs: Gregg Popovich taking it slow with Rudy Gay’s return

By Rob Wolkenbrod
SACRAMENTO, CA - OCTOBER 2: Rudy Gay #22 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts to a play against the Sacramento Kings during the preseason game on October 2, 2017 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - OCTOBER 2: Rudy Gay #22 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts to a play against the Sacramento Kings during the preseason game on October 2, 2017 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Rudy Gay is not in favor of it, but San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich wants to take a cautious approach to his return.

The San Antonio Spurs’ preseason opener against the Sacramento Kings did not feature Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker or Rudy Gay, the team’s top offseason signing that spent the offseason recovering from a ruptured Achilles. He agreed to a two-year, $17 million deal to join the Spurs in July.

According to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-NewsPopovich said he wanted to bring Gay along slowly, which tied to him not playing on Monday night. If he played, it would have been his homecoming to Sacramento, after playing there for three-plus seasons.

Despite the cautious approach, Gay was cleared to return to basketball by doctors. He said conversations were already had with Popovich.

“That’s just what I do,” Popovich said. “I’m more conservative. I’m probably going to bring him along more slowly than he’s going to want to.”

“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.’ “

Rudy Gay taking jumpers from the same spot on the Golden1 Center floor where he tore his Achilles. He won't play tonight, Pop says pic.twitter.com/piYnYH7FF6

— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) October 2, 2017

It is tough to doubt Popovich’s motivation here, after his two decades of success in San Antonio. He usually brings players along slowly, notably those above age 30. They receive rest to preserve their bodies for more important games, something he may find trouble doing for the 2017-18 season. This situation is different since it is an injury, but the severity of maybe made Popovich cautious, even with his knowledge of Gay’s clearance.

Getting Gay onto the court before the preseason ends would not be a surprise. It provides him his first reps since the Achilles injury in January, before playing meaningful minutes. Whether that happens is unknown, but will potentially be updated before Game 2 of the preseason.

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Gay has three days to prep for the Spurs’ next preseason game, which comes on Friday, Oct. 6 at 8:30 p.m. ET against the Kings. This one is at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, TX. If he plays, it would be his first appearance in front of the home fans, as he did not play in Saturday’s Silver and Black Scrimmage.

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