Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said today that he’ll be “surprised” to see Kawhi Leonard, who’s recovering from an injured quad muscle, play again this season. Woof.
Leonard has missed 50 of 59 games this season, and hasn’t played a single minute since Jan. 13 as he recovers from tendinopathy in his right quadriceps muscle. Even without Leonard the 35-24 Spurs still sit at third in the West, though they face a tough home stretch, with 18 of their 23 final games coming against teams with winning records, including Houston, Golden State, and Oklahoma City twice apiece. To lengthen their NBA-record streak of 18 consecutive 50-win seasons, San Antonio will have to find good play elsewhere on their injury-riddled roster, with LaMarcus Aldridge and Manu Ginobili listed as day-to-day and Rudy Gay returning this week from a two-month absence.
Last month ESPN published a strange, vague dispatch suggesting that Leonard’s drawn-out recovery has had a “chilling impact” on his relationship with the front office. Those sources described Leonard as “distant” and “disconnected,” though it’s unclear what set that apart from the famously sedate player’s normal behavior.
Update (8:31 p.m. ET): Woj has a report on ESPN that cites sources who say that Leonard has been medically cleared to return from his right quad injury. However, he has so far chosen not to return to the active roster.