Sam Amick wrote about the strange Kawhi situation in which the Spurs have taken on the complete underdog, overlook-able status of also-rans. The team is not good and the only thing holding the hopes up of San Antonians and even talking heads, is that Pop is still coaching and Tony and Manu are still on the team.
Whereas the sweep last season was respectable and even noble, this version is troubling and hard to watch. This team is not good on offense, and overreliant on LaMarcus Aldridge for whatever creatitity can be had. The defense is mistake-prone and there are no real hopeful options anywhere. Pop was coaching up Bryn Forbes and Derrick White, the presumed future of the team who right now seem to have complemetary piece potential.
Dejounte Murray is good, and looks promising, but he is a ways away from being a center piece. Even then, he looks like the 2018 version of George Hill, long and athletic, and a Pop favorite. The Spurs even considrered flipping him for a future Hall-of-Famer this summer ( that Kyrie thing ) so the parrallels are strong.
It is ugly, and it was not supposed to be. There is good reason to think that Kawhi can lift this team to NBA-title challenger by playing as he has the last two seasons. Just like LeBron can lift also-rans and career second-teamers to lofty heights.
This situation does not look good for anyone. Some day we will learn a version of the truth with more details and we will know why Kawhi is spending time in New York and why the Spurs are leaking information to the press. We will find out why Jalen Rose has thought Kawhi wants to go to LA but also does not realize that he could make bank while being in San Antonio if he would just compromise on his personality a bit.
San Antonio has never been a media capital, but neither has OKC and yet look at LA-born Russ Westbrook showing out and making money. He is famously quiet and reserved but yet also willing to show his personality to make a little cash on the side.
This has only been an issue because Kawhi has made it one. He and his “group” do not think he is getting paid enough and that he needs a bigger city to draw teammates and cash. They are not controlling the narrative, and are making things worse for everyone. He is rich enough to hire a guy to make statements for him and to make it less awkward.
Meanwhile we all are left in a strange scenario. Everyone wants Kawhi to come back, but his absence makes it hard to root for him. Of course, no one really knows a player but this entire wink-wink thing works on an understanding that the players will act like someone you want to root for while also playing good basketball. Right now it looks like he is abandoning his teammates and working out alone while he waits for his big ass contract.
It is bad PR. It might be that he is trying to do right by his teammates. They could have talked it over and he could be simply removing a distraction by being away. But the questions are being asked. The national broadcast spend air time discussing the strangeness of it all. They hinted at the frustration on the part of the organization. If his absence was strategic it is a failure.