San Antonio Spurs to turn to Rudy Gay in Kawhi Leonard’s absence

After injuries unceremoniously ended Kawhi Leonard’s 2016-17 season, they appear ready to derail the start of his 2017-18 campaign. According to the San Antonio Spurs, Leonard will miss the season opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In the meantime, Rudy Gay is expected to slide into a starting role.

When the Spurs added Gay, a decorated scorer throughout his NBA tenure, he figured to be a Sixth Man candidate. Coming off an Achilles injury, the Spurs took a chance on him.

The move might have paid off, as Gay will be thrust into a larger role than many envisioned at the time of the signing.

Gay averaged 18.7 PPG on 45.5 percent shooting in 30 games before suffering a left Achilles rupture. He spent the last four seasons with the Sacramento Kings before deciding to join the Spurs.

Gay will team up with forward LaMarcus Aldridge and center Pau Gasol to solidify San Antonio’s frontcourt. When Leonard returns, the Spurs will also have the option of playing small by moving Aldridge to center. In that case, both Leonard and Gay could theoretically start.

Leonard’s absence is open ended, though. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich only said that, “When he's ready, he'll be ready.” Currently, Leonard is still rehabbing an injured right thigh. It was an ankle injury in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals that sidelined him for the remainder of San Antonio’s series against the Golden State Warriors.

Considered one of the league’s premier defenders, Leonard also averaged 25.5 PPG last season–making him a strong candidate for the MVP award this season. However, his injury could keep him out of multiple games.

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