The 2018 NBA All-Star weekend officially wrapped up Sunday in Los Angeles as Team LeBron defeated Team Stephen 148-145 on the last possession of the game. San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge was the only All-Star representative of the Spurs, but, he mentioned after the game, he went in knowing he wasn’t looking to get too much playing time Sunday.
Aldridge played four and a half minutes during the first half where he recorded a block in his limited time.
While on the court there wasn’t much news concerning the Spurs, off the court there was. Friday, Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford spoke with Tom Osborn of the San Antonio Express News and provided the latest details of the injury situation for Rudy Gay and Kawhi Leonard. Then, on Saturday, at his All-Star media session, Aldridge gave a few quotes when asked about Gay and Leonard’s injury situations.
Going back to Friday’s interview with the Express News, Buford told Osborn there’s still “no firm timeline” of when Gay and Leonard will return to the court with San Antonio. “Kawhi will be available when he’s ready,” Buford told the Express News, and on Gay, while the target date was to have him ready after the All-Star break, Buford said, “the doctors will dictate return to play.”
On Saturday, when Aldridge was asked directly if he’s confident Leonard will return, Aldridge responded, “I don’t know.”
Should Leonard return, Aldridge said his game wouldn’t change. “I’ll be the same person,” Aldridge said. “I have to be who I am now for us to have a chance to win it.”
When a media member pointed out the negatives of the Spurs’ injury situation, Aldridge pointed out some of the positives. Aldridge said the Spurs are still third in the Western Conference at the All-Star break and young players like Dejounte Murray and Bryn Forbes have gained valuable experience for, “down the line.”
Overall though, Aldridge acknowledged that if the Spurs want to make a deep run in the playoffs, they’ll need a healthy Gay and Leonard. “To get to where we want to go, we’ve got to have Kawhi, we’ve got to have Rudy, we’ve got to have all those guys back and that’s the goal.”
This season, Leonard has been limited to playing in just 15% of the Spurs’ games with a quad injury, while Gay has only played in 58% of San Antonio’s contests, as he’s been dealing with a right heel injury.
The Spurs’ schedule after the All-Star break is only going to get that much tougher when play resumes Friday in Denver, as 18 of the Spurs’ final 23 opponents are currently .500 or above. Plus, only a handful of games separate the 3rd seeded Spurs and 10th place Jazz in the Western Conference playoff race.