NBA Teams
Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer 23d

Gregg Popovich OK with NBA changes, not OK being asked about Kawhi Leonard

NBA, San Antonio Spurs

BOSTON -- San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who often irked the league by resting his stars during national TV broadcasts, says he's amenable to the changes made this offseason, though he's still not clear on who he can and cannot rest in certain situations.

NBA owners passed legislation in September that allows commissioner Adam Silver to fine teams at least $100,000 if they rest healthy players or multiple players outside of unusual circumstances, especially during national TV games. Teams electing to rest players have been encouraged to do so for home games instead of away games, and star players sitting out are expected to be on the bench during games.

"Frankly, it's a little bit cloudy. It's all done in good faith to make your fans feel like they're seeing what they want to see for their money, which I understand," Popovich said prior to Monday's game in Boston before deadpanning, "I'm just glad I was never one of those guys that rested people."

Turning more serious, he added, "So the league, obviously, they've compromised a great deal. This schedule is great. The way they've reduced back-to-backs and four-in-five-nights and that sort of thing, Adam listened and I think that's huge. It speaks a lot for how much he cares about the players and the league. The fans are important, too, and we gotta understand that."

But Popovich noted the rule still left some room for interpretation.

"Some of the stuff is in stone and should not be negotiable," said Popovich. "Obviously, Kawhi [Leonard] is hurt but, if Kawhi is healthy, we played last night, I need to play him tonight even though it's a back-to-back [because] we're on the road and he only plays in Boston once. So, same thing with a LeBron [James] or whoever it might be, that makes sense. So I can deal with that.

"On the TV games, the only thing I wonder about is how far down does the list go? I forget the words -- not your important players or your star players or your marquee players or something like that? There's a word, I just can't remember what the adjective was, but how far down the list does it go? How do you tell us? Are you going to tell us which ones are the marquee players and which ones aren't?

"I guess they will if we don't play them and the fine comes, then I guess we'll know this guy is a marquee player."

The Spurs remained without the services of Leonard on Monday night, and Popovich said he's uncertain when exactly Leonard will make his 2017-18 debut while still recovering from the quad injury suffered last season.

"I don't even ask. Seriously. When [the medical staff tells] me he's ready then I'll know he's ready," said Popovich. "[Leonard] doesn't like to be bugged about it all the time. I don't want to hear about it all the time. [The media is] going to ask the question and I understand. When they tell me he's ready to go, then I'll look at him on the court and I'll decide if I agree. Then he and I can talk about it. But the first step is for them to tell me he is ready to go."

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