First the good news: After missing 12 games recovering from testicular surgery, Manu Ginobili will return to the lineup per Gregg Popovich and play at least a few minutes. Actually, to hear Pop tell it, there is no real minute restriction or limit for the Argentine sixth-man.
"Not really, just probably what he can handle. He's had three workouts, with contact," Popovich explained. "It's probably more his wind, than anything, I imagine."
Unfortunately, just as the Spurs are getting their most valuable reserve back, out go three starters from the lineup, with LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan and Danny Green all out against the Kings. Two were planned all along, according to Pop, but Aldridge was a surprise. The Spurs will have their work cut out for them to keep their home winning streak intact against DeMarcus Cousins and Co.
"The convergence is unfortunate but this is three-in-four nights for Timmy, and then a back-to-back coming up, so he was going to be out anyway," Popovich said. "We didn't know that LaMarcus was going to have a migraine. We had decided after the last back-to-back that Danny needed to finally get some rest because he's being overplayed. So we're missing three instead of two. But that's the way it goes."
It's a tough break for Aldridge, but Green needing a blow is not surprising at all. He had seemingly every appendage in his body wrapped in ice after Wednesday's game against the Pistons and he's been struggling of late.
Meanwhile, there isn't any news for now on the transaction front. All signs indicate that Kevin Martin has indeed made the decision to join the Spurs, but nothing is official yet, and that includes not yet waiving someone from the roster --widely believed to be Rasual Butler-- to make room for him.
"He's not here," Popovich said of Martin. "Don't really know. Not supposed to say, to tell you the truth. I don't know what they say in the paper, I don't know what management wants to do, and I don't want to go jail or anything for saying the wrong thing."
Somehow I suspect that Pop knows more than he let on. For what it's worth, Butler still has his locker intact and his uniform hanging.
Finally, Popovich answered a question of whether he's been impressed by Kawhi Leonard's clutch-ness of late and if he's gained confidence in putting him in those late-game situations.
"I'm obviously feeling more and more comfortable," he said. "We did a similar thing in Orlando, we played 1-4 and put him at the top of the ball and had him do his ‘Kobe' imitation. It doesn't always work, they don't always go in, and they didn't always go in for Kobe [Bryant] or Michael [Jordan] or anybody else. You see the ones that went in but a lot don't go in, but he's a guy I have confidence in to have the ball at the end of games."