With his team back on the practice floor Monday for the first time in more than a week, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich wasn’t about to feel sorry for his team’s situation.
“We’ve always had the philosophy that there are always people or groups of people who have it worse than you do,” Popovich said. “Considering our position, we’re very, very, very well off. So, complaining or feeling sorry for oneself, that’s not in the picture.”
The Spurs’ season resumes Wednesday night against the host Oklahoma City Thunder after being put on hold after San Antonio’s Feb. 14 win in Charlotte.
Following that game, four Spurs players — Rudy Gay, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell and Derrick White — tested positive for COVID-19.
Quinndary Weatherspoon was already in the league’s health and safety protocols before that game.
San Antonio will be plenty short-handed against the Thunder, with those five players all out as they work their way back from the protocols.
DeMar DeRozan, the Spurs’ leading scorer, is also listed as out for personal reasons following his father’s death.
San Antonio could also be without LaMarcus Aldridge, who hasn’t played since Feb. 1 but could return after missing six games due to hip soreness.
Aldridge practiced Monday and was to be re-evaluated Tuesday before the team left San Antonio.
San Antonio recalled guard Tre Jones and forward Luka Samanic from the G League to assure them enough players to play Wednesday’s game.
If Aldridge is able to play, Popovich would have 10 players available.
But the Spurs coach kept things in perspective, given not only the pandemic but last week’s winter storm, which left plenty of Texans without power or water.
“Tough break for us,” Popovich said. “But not near as difficult as many, many, many here in the state of Texas have had to endure.”
San Antonio was on a roll before the stoppage, winning five of its last six, including a pair of games to start what was to be a seven-game road trip, which was to wrap up Wednesday.
The Thunder come into Wednesday’s game having dropped seven of their last nine, including Monday’s 108-94 loss in the first game of a four-game homestand.
Among the bright spots recently has been the play of 19-year-old rookie Theo Maledon.
In the five games since he returned from missing four games due to health and safety protocols, Maledon is shooting 47.1 percent from the floor and 45.5 percent from behind the 3-point line. In his first 21 games of the season, Maledon was shooting 39.7 percent and 36.6 percent.
While his assist numbers haven’t risen much, his turnover numbers have only gone up slightly despite a big minutes increase as he’s moved into the starting lineup.
“He’s very composed for a rookie,” Thunder veteran Mike Muscala said. “Obviously his experience in Europe really shows. Very mature and very poised. His shooting has really surprised me, too. He’s a great shooter.”
The Spurs won the first meeting between the teams, 112-102, in Oklahoma City on Jan. 12.
–Field Level Media