Gregg Popovich opens up about Kawhi Leonard trade: 'It's time to move on'

The Kawhi Leonard-DeMar DeRozan trade was an unexpected Wednesday morning blockbuster. Once the news had a few hours to sink in, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich addressed the media about Kawhi and his trade to the Toronto Raptors.

As you’d expect, Coach Pop was optimistic and honest during the 25-minute press conference — well, as honest as he could be, considering his relationship with Leonard wasn’t always the best. He took some time to reflect on Kawhi’s past and future with the Raptors, and was particularly complimentary of Danny Green, who is also going to the Raptors as part of the trade.

“Kawhi obviously worked very hard to become the player he is and our staff worked very hard to help him get there and we wish him all the best as he moves on to Toronto. I think he’s gonna be great. Danny Green will be missed. He’s been here quite a while and was a big part of what we do on and off the court. He was a great community guy, and we are going to miss him very much.”

But as much as he’s going to miss Green (and also probably Leonard), Popovich is pretty excited about what the future holds for the Spurs. Via mySanAntonio.com:

“With DeMar coming to San Antonio, I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “DeMar is a four-time All-Star, an All-NBA player and he has been great in the community there, a team player, somebody I have respected and watched play for a while now and we are thrilled to have him here. Jacob is a young talent that I think has a great opportunity to develop into a very good NBA player.

“So, we are very anxious to get them involved in the program and let them know how we do things. They will become important parts of the program.”

Popovich knows that people will always want to hear about the conflict between him and Kawhi, but he’s ready to focus on the new players the Spurs just got from the Raptors (DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl) and completely move on from the drama of the past.

“Kawhi conducted himself wonderfully while he was here. He helped us win a fifth championship and was a hard worker all the time. We wish him well, but at this point, it’s time to move on. I’m concerned about Jacob and DeMar and our basketball team and putting that together.

“We have a lot of young kids and it’s exciting. But in no way, shape and form does it do any good to go back in time and talk A, B and C. It’s time to move on.”

Kawhi will be playing on the opposite side of the country — and literally in another country — and that should help everyone move on to the next chapter of their careers.

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Kawhi Leonard through his career
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Kawhi Leonard through his career
San Diego State Aztecs' Kawhi Leonard (L) and Connecticut Huskies' Kemba Walker scramble for a loose ball during the second half of their NCAA West Regional college basketball game in Anaheim, California March 24, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Kawhi Leonard stands with NBA Commissioner David Stern after being selected by the Indiana Pacers as the 15th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft in Newark, New Jersey June 23, 2011. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard (L) goes to the basket against Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah (C) and Taj Gibson during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Chicago, February 11, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan (C), Kawhi Leonard (L) and Manu Ginobili celebrate after a basket against the Miami Heat in the first half during Game 3 of their NBA Finals basketball playoff in San Antonio, Texas June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
May 31, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) attempts a shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter in game six of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 29, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) is pressured by Orlando Magic shooting guard Arron Afflalo (4) during the first half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 15, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) dunks the ball during the second quarter against the Miami Heat in game five of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 21, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) and forward Kawhi Leonard (2) between plays against the Sacramento Kings during the first quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
May 29, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots over Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) during the second half in game five of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Miami Heat's LeBron James (R) looks to pass around San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard during the first quarter in Game 2 of their NBA Finals basketball series in San Antonio, Texas, June 8, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Jun 15, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) celebrates in the locker room with the Finals MVP trophy after defeating the Miami Heat in game five of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. The Spurs defeated the Heat 104-87 to win the NBA Finals. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) poses for a picture during media day at Spurs Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 28, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) gets his NBA championship ring from San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
April 22, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the second half in game two of the first round of the NBA Playoffs. at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 13, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Western Conference forward Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs (2) looks on during practice for the NBA All Star game at Ricoh Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images (TAGS: Sport Basketball NBA) *** Local Caption *** 2016-02-13T174655Z_1762526181_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_NBA-ALL-STAR-PRACTICE.JPG
Jan 12, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots the ball over Los Angeles Lakers small forward Luol Deng (9) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) talks with head coach Gregg Popovich during the second half against the Sacramento Kings at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 22, 2017; Memphis, TN, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts during the first half against the Memphis Grizzlies in game four of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
May 14, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts after an injury during the third quarter in game one of the Western conference finals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Spurs 113-111. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
May 20, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (in suit) watches from the bench against the Golden State Warriors during the first half in game three of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 2, 2018; New York, NY, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts with San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) against the New York Knicks during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
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Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at lizroscher@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter at @lizroscher.

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