Storyline: Kawhi Leonard Injury

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12 hours ago via ESPN

Here’s Spurs coach Gregg Popovich discussing the players-only meeting regarding Kawhi Leonard: “I only talk about the things that I know, and I know he’s worked hard to get back. It’s been frustrating. You don’t think he wants to come back? You don’t think we want him back? But the fact that he’s not back, it frustrates everybody for all the obvious reasons. But there’s no blame to be placed, on him or anybody else. It’s just an unfortunate situation. So what we do, what we think about, we’re going to do what we’ve been doing. The guys that are playing, that’s who the team is. And if he got added to the team, well that’s great. But you have to act like it’s not going to happen because you have to be who you are. And he’s not with us right now. So this team has to have its own identity. That seems pretty logical. That’s the only way to look at this.”
3 days ago via ESPN

“He is not coming back,” veteran guard Manu Ginobili said. “For me, he’s not coming back because it’s not helping [to think Leonard is returning]. We fell for it a week ago again. I guess you guys made us fall for it. But we have to think that he’s not coming back, that we are who we are, and that we got to fight without him. That shouldn’t be changing, at least until he is ready for the jungle.” Sources told ESPN that Leonard’s target date to return from the quadriceps tendinopathy that has kept him out for all but nine games this season has always been “mid-March.” But the team continues to list him as out on its official injury report as a component of what it calls “return-from-injury management.”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said before Monday’s game with the Rockets he does not have a firm date yet for Kawhi Leonard’s return to the court. “I’ll see Kawhi tomorrow and we’ll see how he’s feeling and see how ready he is and see how ready I think he is, and we will go from there,” Popovich. League sources have said Leonard is targeting either Tuesday’s game against the Orlando Magic or Thursday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans for his return.

Star forward Kawhi Leonard said Wednesday there is no friction between him and the Spurs regarding his treatment for the quadriceps ailment that has limited him to just nine games this season. “Everything was done as a group,” Leonard said of him seeking second opinions. “I don’t feel like nothing was friction. I talk to Pop (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) every day. He knows what the progression were. He knew what I was doing the whole entire time, as well as the front office. We made a group decision, so it was me just going out and saying, ‘I am going to go out and do this thing.’ “

A source from another team told me recently that the distance between Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs is real, but the Spurs aren’t panicking. They’ll wait until he comes back before making any franchise-altering decisions, even if that means waiting until next September. We’ll see. Waiting to work things out when Kawhi returns seems like the prudent course, and that’s probably the most likely outcome. But Kawhi playing basketball this year was also considered a foregone conclusion at one point, and what’s happened since has been strange enough to make you wonder about the future.

Can you please tell me that my Spurs are going to be O.K. after this latest Kawhi Leonard news? Marc Stein: Really wish I could, but Wednesday’s proclamation from Gregg Popovich that he’d be surprised to see Leonard return this season is ominous on too many levels. The Spurs have won at least 50 games in 18 consecutive seasons and have posted a winning record on the road going all the way back to the 1997-98 season, which was Tim Duncan’s rookie season. Both of those streaks are in serious jeopardy now — and that’s just the short-term stuff. How deep are the fissures in Leonard’s relationship with the Spurs? Were Pop’s comments intended to try to goad him into coming back? Are the Spurs unwilling to offer the “supermax” contract this summer that Leonard is eligible to receive? Is this all building toward a showdown that winds up getting Leonard — who so many of us thought was the perfect Spur and a future M.V.P. — traded in the off-season? These are the sorts of questions people around the league are asking about San Antonio, which hasn’t endured drama on this level since the early days of Duncan’s career, before the Pop-led Spurs started regularly winning championships in 2003.

Coach Gregg Popovich’s declaration Wednesday that he would be “surprised” if franchise player Kawhi Leonard returns this season has provided the Spurs with some much-needed clarity as they prepare to play the final 23 games of the season, guard Manu Ginobili said Thursday. “We know know who we are, and it’s not like, ‘Is he coming back next week?’ ” Ginobili said after practice. “At this point of the season, there is only twenty games left, so we’ve got to face the rest of the season as if he isn’t coming back.”

On the eve of the NBA trade deadline, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili indicated they would like to see the team stand pat, with the hope that Kawhi Leonard will return in time for the Spurs to get on a roll entering the playoffs. “I think it is always good to stay intact,” Parker said after the team’s shootaround in preparation for Wednesday night’s game against the Suns. “We went to the conference finals last year, so the biggest thing for us is not a trade but to get Kawhi back,” Parker added.

Given all the drama, and the questions surrounding Leonard’s injury, CBS Sports spoke with certified athletic trainer Jeff Stotts to get a better understanding of what Leonard is dealing with, and where things may go from here. In addition to his work in the field, Stotts runs his own website,, and serves as an injury analyst for CBS Sports partner CBS Sports: We hear about tendinitis or a torn tendon, but what do they mean by tendinopathy? That’s one we don’t hear about as much. Jeff Stotts: Well, the problem with tendinopathy is it can kind of be a catch-all term. A lot of times it just refers to anything that’s wrong with the tendon itself. It can be anything from tendinitis to an actual disease of the tendon, like a degenerative disease. It can be two extremes. It can be something mild like a tendinitis, or something a little bit more chronic, where it’s more problematic. And even sometimes you can either reference tendon tears and include them in the tendinopathy category because they involve a tendon, though there’s been no indication that Kawhi ruptured or tore his patella like Tony Parker did around the same time last season.

Jeff Stotts: The big thing for me here, is San Antonio has historically the best medical staff in the NBA since 2005-06. They’ve lost the fewest number of games, and they have a long history of taking a conservative, proactive approach with their players. You can go back to 2000, Tim Duncan, when he tore his meniscus, they elected to shut him down rather than let him play through it. He elected for the surgery, and obviously went on to have a Hall of Fame career. Popovich and his staff, and the medical team in San Antonio, they were the precursors for the rest phenomenon, they were the first ones resting players for extended periods of times, targeting schedule rest days during the season for their players, with their eye on the postseason.
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March 24, 2018 | 5:26 am EDT Update
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Curry was not made available to reporters postgame. He wasn’t anywhere in sight once the locker room opened. After his first two ankle injuries, he talked to reporters. After all three that happened in-game this season, he was in the locker room, which gave an early sense of how he was feeling and moving, a peek at Stage 1 of the treatment. But this injury is different, it’s likely more severe and, for the first time during this recent rash of freak accidents to all their main guys, the return timeline is threatening to bleed into the postseason.
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