AT&T CENTER – Heading into Sunday’s first preseason game of the 2018-19 season, the San Antonio Spurs are bringing back only 42% of last season’s squad. Gone among two of the staples from the Spurs’ locker room over the years are Manu Ginobili (retirement) and Tony Parker (signed in Charlotte).
With only LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills, Pau Gasol, Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Rudy Gay, Bryn Forbes, and Davis Bertans returning from last year’s team, the search for who will take over as locker room leaders will begin anew.
Though, according to Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich, he anticipates Aldridge and Mills will likely be two of the leaders from the get-go.
“I think some things will probably develop in the locker room,” said Popovich Sunday before the team’s first preseason game against the Miami Heat. “Last year LA (LaMarcus Aldridge) was fantastic. He just realized his position on the team, Manu (Ginobili) was a great help to him because he watched Manu in the locker room, in time outs, all that sort of thing – how he conducted himself. So, LA made a huge step last year in that regard.”
“Patty Mills has kind of been a part of our spirit for a while now where he doesn’t just energize a team, but he really gives them a direction and a really gold standard the way he plays every day,” continued Popovich. “So, he and LA were doing a great job last year and I think that’ll continue, but it’ll be interesting to see who else in that regard steps up.”
In terms of championship experience, Mills is the lone Spur who has stayed with the Spurs since their last championship in 2014. Marco Belinelli also won a title with that team, but he has played in a few other organizations since re-signing with San Antonio over the summer.
With Kawhi Leonard facing injury and off the court controversy last season, the Spurs relied on Aldridge to carry them each night, as he produced an All-Star season that helped San Antonio make the playoffs in a very competitive Western Conference.
Now, as the dawn of a new season approaches, it’ll be interesting to see who helps Aldridge and Mills in the leadership department on and off the court.