The San Antonio Spurs opening training camp on Monday and one thing was clear.
The players are happy the Kawhi Leonard drama is in the past.
The Spurs traded their former star to the Toronto Raptors in the offseason after he played in just nine games last season due to a quadriceps injury.
"I was glad it was over," point guard Dejounte Murray told reporters. "Everywhere I went, I couldn't really go anywhere without everybody asking me. Just all the drama, and the Spurs aren't used to drama. So it was weird for everybody in the world. It was a lot.
"Everywhere we went, you'd see on ESPN or First Take: 'Kawhi-Spurs, Kawhi-Spurs.' It was a lot of drama. We're just glad it's over with, and we get to go into training camp with no drama, new guys, exciting guys. This is going to be a fun year."
Leonard's relationship with the team reportedly fell apart due to conflicts over how to treat the injury. He sought outside medical help, spent a large portion of the season in New York and was rarely around the club.
He was confronted by teammates in March over the slowness of his recovery, which furthered the divide. He eventually was traded to the Raptors along with swingman Danny Green for four-time All-Star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, big man Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first-round draft pick.
Power forward LaMarcus Aldridge wanted no part in reliving the Leonard drama.
"I wasn't even going to talk about it," Aldridge said. "It's gone now. If you're going to ask questions about that whole thing, I'm not going to answer them. We're happy to turn the page.
"DeMar is here. He's happy and he's motivated. I played in open gym with him. He's going to make us better. You've got to look forward. We have a very talented team I'm looking forward to playing with."
Leonard isn't the only change. Shooting guard Manu Ginobili retired and longtime point guard Tony Parker left as a free agent and signed with the Charlotte Hornets.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich acknowledged the changing of the guard -- another mainstay, Tim Duncan, retired 26 months ago -- but said he is looking forward to seeing how the new pieces fit.
"At the same time, it's a great opportunity for a new challenge and new energy, a different route, different perspective," Popovich said. "Seeing all the new faces that you have to try to put together, it will make it an interesting, challenging year, but in a good way."
The Spurs were just 47-35 last season after winning 50 or more games in 18 consecutive seasons. Popovich sees no reason success won't continue for the franchise.
"We're adding a talent like DeMar that we didn't have last year," Popovich said. "We're excited about it. The goal will be the same, as it has been every year. We want to be the best team we can be when the playoffs roll around."
--Field Level Media
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