The injury that kept Kawhi Leonard out of last night’s Spurs-Blazers game is a “partial tear” in his left shoulder, according to coach Gregg Popovich.
It’s at least the second injury that has made Leonard unavailable for play in what has been, so far, an all but nonexistent follow-up to a breakout 2016-17 season. After leaving Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals with an ankle injury, he missed the first 27 games of this season due to something called “quadriceps tendinopathy”; since he made his belated debut on Dec. 12, he has not been able to play more than three consecutive games at a stretch without sitting one out for one reason or another.
It’s hard to know how much to make of this: The Spurs are famous both for hyper-caution with the health of their veteran players and for sometimes sneering indifference to anybody’s expectation that they’ll give accurate and fulsome explanations for exactly why those players aren’t playing at any given time. What I am saying here is that Kawhi Leonard might very well have a “partial tear” in the left shoulder of his shirt, for all anybody outside the Spurs organization knows.
On the other hand, Kawhi’s body might truly be fucking up all types of ways, and that would suck! For all their steady night-in-night-out excellence even in his absence (they’re 27-14, third in the West), the Spurs need their former MVP-candidate—a version of him that isn’t leaving body parts strewn across the court in his wake—if they’re to put a serious scare into either the Warriors or the Rockets. More than that, Spurs games need Kawhi Leonard. I can only watch so many Pau Gasol-LaMarcus Aldridge high-low actions in a row before my eyeballs dry up.
In his report for ESPN, Michael C. Wright refers to a league source who says San Antonio “doesn’t think the injury is serious following the initial diagnosis.” Popovich told reporters “I don’t think it’ll be a while” when asked how long Leonard will be out; the team will be checking him out over the next few days. I would not hold out very much hope that he’ll put in 36 minutes tonight in Sacramento, in any event. That game’s gonna be extraordinarily butt.