Youll have to ask Kawhi and his group that question, Popovich said, per ESPN. So far, they say that hes not ready to go. So we cant do anything until that happens. Then, we would have to decide whats going on from there. But thats the first thing that has to happen.
The thinking around the league was that Leonard would not be coming back this season, and on Monday we got word from Yahoos Shams Charania that the two-time NBA defensive player of the year would indeed sit out the rest of the season as he continues his rehabilitation in New York.
Leonard has made strides recently in training and is focused on regaining his full health, Charania reports.
Leonard missed the first 27 games of the season, came back in mid-December but then lasted only until Jan. 13, the date of his last game. He has spent much of his time away from the team in New York, where his medical staff is located. Leonards decision to rehab in the Big Apple was approved by the Spurs medical staff, Charania reports, but Popovich still seems at least a little bit salty about it, considering the blunt talk about Kawhi and his group.
Spurs Kawhi Leonard Expected To Miss Remainder Of Season
Popovich wasnt alone. In March, teammate Tony Parker commented that he had successfully come back from the same type of injury, only his was a hundred times worse than Leonards.
Speaking after his team were walloped 113-92 against defending champions Golden State, Popovich was asked whether the team might be buoyed by Leonard’s return at some point during the series.
The seventh-seeded Spurs lost their playoff opener to the Warriors by 21 points on Saturday and, if that game is any indication, appear headed for only a brief stay in the playoffs. Once its season is over, San Antonio likely will have to make a decision about what to do with Leonard. According to multiple reports, a number of other NBA teams would have a keen interest in acquiring the 2014 NBA Finals MVP via trade, perhaps angling to swing a deal sometime around the NBA draft in June.
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ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski first reported brewing tension between the player and management staff in January and the situation has no improved since for the perennial playoff contenders.
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performance.mark(first image displayed);Gregg Popovich said on Sunday that Kawhi Leonards return was up to him and his team. Patrick Smith/Getty Images
No Kawhi comeback? Spurs still like chances against Warriors
Facing the reigning champions and already down 1-0 to the Golden State Warriors, there is little doubt that All-Star Kawhi Leonard would be a welcome addition to the Spurs. Unfortunately for them, such a return looks highly doubtful.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was asked about the possibility of Leonard coming back to help the Spurs during their playoff push on Sunday, and his answer didnt exactly inspire hope at the prospect.
“Youll have to ask Kawhi and his group that question,” Popovich said. “So far, they say that hes not ready to go. So we cant do anything until that happens. Then, we would have to decide whats going on from there. But thats the first thing that has to happen.”
Asked whether Leonard would be a value to the team on the sidelines supporting his teammates, Popovich deflected the question a bit, saying “Hes rehabbing right now in New York trying to get healthy.”
Kawhi Leonards extended absence has been a cloud hovering over the Spurs for almost the entire second half of the NBA season. Leonard has played in just nine games this year due to injury but had reportedly been set to return to the team back in February. However, second opinions were given by Leonards advisors and doctors have continued to keep him off the court, leading to a severe rift in the ordinarily stoic Spurs locker room.
The ordeal has thrown Leonards future with the Spurs into question. While hell qualify for a $219 million “super-max” extension this offseason, theres reason to believe that both he and the Spurs would be wary of such an investment in each other.
The Spurs will continue their series with the Warriors on Monday night at Golden State.