Manu Ginobili

Managing minutes a "pain in the neck" for Popovich, others

Isaiah Thomas' debut with Cleveland last week came with the same rules as when Kawhi Leonard rejoined the Spurs.

His coach could use him, just not too much.

Both were playing under the dreaded minute restrictions, which coaches learn to accept but will never learn to love.

"It really is a pain in the neck," San Antonio's Gregg Popovich said.

Popovich has dealt with it this season with Leonard, Tony Parker and Danny Green. In their cases, as well as Thomas, Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and others returning from injuries, the team's medical staff gives the coach guidelines for how much workload they can handle and how often — a challenge even for a...