George Gervin, the San Antonio Spurs' longtime leading scorer, has been benched and may not return to the starting lineup this season, Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons said.

Fitzsimmons did not give a specific reason for sidelining Gervin but indicated an arm injury is at least part of the reason.

Gervin bruised a bone in his upper right arm against Washington on Feb. 20. He played poorly in the next two games and then left early in games against Boston and Detroit, both times clutching his arm in pain.

Fitzsimmons said Gervin has proven to be a defensive liability, although he can still generate offense as quickly as anyone in the National Basketball Association. In that respect, he is an ideal sixth man, Fitzsimmons said.

"At this point, he'll come off the bench until he gets in the flow of things and is feeling good," Fitzsimmons said. "To be honest, I really don't have a role for him yet."

Gervin voiced no animosity about the decision.

"I'll do whatever the coach wants. Coming off the bench will be new to me, but I can adjust," said Gervin, still the team's leading scorer this year, averaging 21.8 points per game.

Gervin had an NBA career scoring average of 28 points per game entering this season, his ninth in the league.