“I’ll be surprised if he returns this season.” That’s what Spurs coach Gregg Popovich shared about injured star forward Kawhi Leonard on Wednesday.
Leonard missed the first 27 games of the regular season, and he returned to participate in nine contests before the Spurs made the decision last month to sideline the forward indefinitely. Recovering from right quadriceps tendinopathy, Leonard has told the organization at various stages of his rehabilitation process that he wasn’t comfortable with his ability to play through the injury and that the Spurs should shut him down.
“Well, we only have X number of games left in the season, and he’s still not ready to go,” Popovich said. “If by some chance he is, it’s gonna be pretty late into the season. And it’s going to be a pretty tough decision: How late to bring somebody back? So that’s why I’m just trying to be honest and logical. I’ll be surprised if he gets back this year.”
Leonard has developed into one of the most dominant players in the league, becoming a two-time first-team All-NBA player, a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and the 2014 NBA Finals MVP in the Spurs’ championship victory over the Miami Heat.