The Spurs have grown accustomed to living the rocky lif…

The Spurs have grown accustomed to living the rocky life of missing Kawhi Leonard for much of this injury plagued season. Now they are prepared to wave goodbye to LaMarcus Aldridge until after the All-Star break. Aldridge will not play in either of the Spurs’ final two games leading into the break, tonight in Utah or Tuesday at Denver.

More on Kawhi Leonard Injury

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, InStreetClothes.com, and serves as an injury analyst for CBS Sports partner Rotowire.com. 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.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich shrugged off a local reporter's suggestion that his team is mired in a "soap opera," one day after ESPN reported on the strained relationship between the club and its star forward Kawhi Leonard.
Gregg Popovich: "The rehab is going slower than we expected. We wish it were going more quickly. If we're going to err, as we have in the past, we're going to do it on the conservative side. We kept Timmy Duncan out of the playoffs one year because of a knee, and he could have played. So I don't see this as anything different than we've done with any other player. But some people for some reason want to do that. That's OK. But that doesn't affect my team or me or anybody else."
Months of discord centering on elements of treatment, rehabilitation and timetables for return from a right quadriceps injury have had a chilling impact on San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard's relationship with the franchise and coaching staff, league sources told ESPN. Under president and coach Gregg Popovich and general manager RC Buford, the Spurs have a two decades-long history of strong relationships with star players, but multiple sources describe Leonard and his camp as "distant" and "disconnected" from the organization.
Buford described a frustrating process of rehabilitation for what has been an elusive solution to an injury. "This has been difficult for everyone," Buford told ESPN. "It's been difficult for Kawhi. He's an elite level player. It's been difficult for the team, because they want to play with a great teammate. And it's been difficult for our staff. Historically we've been able to successfully manage injuries. This rehab hasn't been simple and it hasn't gone in a linear fashion."
Paul Garcia: Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gay are OUT Sunday against Indiana. Manu Ginobili upgraded to questionable.
Despite the announcement earlier this week that Kawhi Leonard will be out an “indefinite period” to continue rehabbing his right quadriceps tendinopathy injury, the two-time All-Star doesn’t plan to sit out the rest of the season, according to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and those close to Leonard. “It’s not a setback,” a person close to Leonard told the Express-News, “just a regrouping.”
But outside the Spurs, questions have arisen about whether the injury could threaten his career. That notion is being refuted by those close to KawhiLeonard. “Career threatening shouldn’t even be in the conversation,” a person close to Leonard told the Express-News.
Kawhi Leonard's maddening season took another turn Wednesday afternoon when the San Antonio Spurs announced he would be out for an indefinite period as he "continues his rehabilitation process from right quadriceps tendinopathy." "Kawhi has made significant progress and continues to move forward in his rehabilitation," said Spurs GM RC Buford. "This is the best approach for the next steps in his return to play."
Jeff McDonald: Pop says Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker and Danny Green are expected to play tonight against Denver, unless something goes awry with warm-ups.
Tom Orsborn: Pop on whether Kawhi Leonard's shoulder injury still looks short term rather than long term: "When he's back, he's back." For what it's worth, Leonard participated in shootaround and was on the court working out before the game. #Spurs
Tom Orsborn: #Spurs have downgraded Tony Parker (sprained right ankle) from doubtful to out for tonight's game vs. Lakers. Danny Green (tightness, left groin) is also out after being downgraded from questionable. Kawhi Leonard (left shoulder strain) and Rudy Gay (right heel bursitis) were ruled out Wednesday.
Tom Orsborn: Leonard (shoulder) has been ruled out for tomorrow vs. Lakers, #Spurs say. It will be his 3rd straight game missed w/ that injury. Also, Parker (sprained right ankle) is doubtful, Gay (heel) is out and Green (groin) is questionable).
The Spurs do not have a timeline for Leonard's return, but Popovich did not rule him out for Monday's game at Sacramento. The Spurs conclude their three-game West Coast trip on Friday night in Los Angeles for a game with the Lakers. "I don't think it will be a while," Popovich said when asked how long he thought Leonard would be out.
Michael C. Wright: Even though Kawhi Leonard has a partial terse in his shoulder, the team at this point doesn't think it's serious. Team will continue to monitor it over these next few days. He has not yet been ruled out for Thursday in LA against the Lakers.
Tom Orsborn: Pop said Leonard suffered a partial tear in his left shoulder Friday night against Phoenix: "It’s too bad. He was starting to get back into form a little bit after playing a couple of games." #Spurs
Tom Orsborn: Pop didn't rule out Leonard playing at some point during this three-game West Coast trip, which continues tomorrow night in Sacramento and ends Thursday night against the Lakers in L.A.: "I don’t know. It depends on how his shoulder goes." #Spurs
Michael C. Wright: Kawhi Leonard will start per Pop.
Tom Orsborn: In the strongest signal yet that Kawhi Leonard will make his return Tuesday night in Dallas, the just-released Spurs injury report lists him as PROBABLE for the game. Same for Danny Green, who missed the Phoenix game Saturday with a groin injury. #Spurs
Kyle Anderson (left MCL sprain), Pau Gasol (rest), Manu Ginobili (rest), Kawhi Leonard (right quadriceps tendinopathy) and Tony Parker (return from injury management) are out for Saturday's game at Phoenix. Danny Green (tightness, left groin) is questionable.
RJ Marquez: #Spurs injury report for tonight's game at #Suns Like Manu Ginobili said last night in the locker room, about 5-6 guys would not make the trip. No Kawhi tonight, would make sense to bring him back with full group at Dallas on Tuesday #KSATnews #KSATsports pic.twitter.com/Rdqe9Jua5N
Despite the absence of injured star player Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs' ratings for games telecast by FOX Sports Southwest are up substantially over where they stood at this point last season, a spokesperson for the regional network told the Express-News on Friday. The Spurs enjoyed a 6.41 average household rating through 21 games, said Mary Hyink, director of marketing and communication for FOX Sports Southwest.
A sense of excitement and relief filled the Spurs practice facility Friday morning as the team prepared for the return of injured franchise player Kawhi Leonard. The Express-News reported Thursday that if Leonard passes some final benchmarks in his rehab, he could return as soon as Saturday on the road against Phoenix. "We are all excited that day is approaching," Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. "As I thought before and I still think, it is going to take a little bit of an adjustment to see how (Leonard) is doing, to wait until he gets into his rhythm and to re-balance the team," Ginobili said. "I don't know how long it is going to take. But for sure we need him if we want to have hopes of being the last team standing."
The Spurs are no strangers this season to integrating injured players back into the mix. Point guard Tony Parker missed the first 19 games after tearing his left quadriceps tendon in the playoffs last May. "I think being just through it with Tony guys will be somewhat prepared," point guard Patty Mills said. "But (Kawhi Leonard) is one of those guys with big shoes to fill. It will be an adjustment."
The wait for Kawhi Leonard’s return may finally be coming to an end. League sources tell the Express-News Leonard could make his season debut for the Spurs on Saturday against the Phoenix Suns barring any setbacks. According to sources, Leonard participate in a final workout session Thursday. The team will re-evaluate Leonard on Friday. If all goes well, and Leonard feels OK, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year will travel with the team to Phoenix after Friday’s game against Boston to play in the second game of a back-to-back.
Tom Orsborn: Leonard remains out, according to Spurs injury report for Wednesday vs. Miami. Gay (heel), Lauvergne (finger) are probable. Anderson (knee) also out for likely for next two weeks.
Paul Garcia: Kawhi, do you have a target game to return? "No, just whenever." Kawhi said it's all about how his body reacts after each workout in the rehab process.
Tom Orsborn: Van Gundy on Pop's coaching job without Kawhi: "They’ve got a guy who is arguably the best coach ever in our league in terms of success over the long term, so he has done a tremendous job making adjustments. There is nothing really surprising about what they have done."
RJ Marquez: Popovich on Kawhi Leonard imminent return: "It's really much sooner now" Says he understands why he keeps getting questions about Leonard and Kawhi wants to play, he wants to see him back on court #KSATsports #KSATnews #Spurs

http://twitter.com/JabariJYoung/status/937444695738810368
Jeff McDonald: Asked Pop is there's any chance Leonard plays Sunday in OKC. He didn't say no: “We’re just talking about tonight.” ... Still think it makes more sense to bring him back at home. That usually Pop's m.o.
Leonard has played two sessions of 5-on-5, going both halfcourt and full. At shootaround this morning at the FedEx Forum, Leonard practiced with the full team for the first time, Popovich said. “Those are the last steps,” Popovich said. “That’s what Tony (Parker) did before he came back.”
“[Kawhi Leonard is] starting to feel in a little bit better shape and feeling more confident,” Popovich said. Once Leonard feels well enough to play, the final hurdle will be in lobbying his coach. It took Parker two weeks from the time he felt good enough to go for Popovich to put him on the floor. “When he says, ‘I feel I can go,’ then he’s got to convince me,” Popovich said. “Because I’m going to err on the conservative side. We’ll see. He’s too valuable to bring back early.”
Tom Orsborn: Rudy Gay (sore right heel) has been upgraded to probable for Wednesday's game vs. Memphis after he sat out Monday's win over Dallas, per #Spurs injury report. Kawhi Leonard (right quadriceps tendinopathy) and Derrick White (right wrist fracture) remain out.
Tom Orsborn: Pop with some seemingly good news about Leonard: "He’s getting very close (to playing 5-on-5) and making progress. He’s having contact now and hopefully we will get him back shortly." #Spurs
Michael C. Wright: Pop said he's "probably not gonna consult" with Tony Parker about when Kawhi Leonard will return. Pop did say Kawhi is "very close" and participating in "contact" work.
Parker worked out with Leonard during his rehabilitation process from a torn quadriceps tendon, and said the two-time All-Star is "close" to returning to normal as he recovers from quadriceps tendinopathy. Parker estimated Leonard would return to action "in a couple weeks, three weeks."
"He looked great," Parker said of Leonard. "I was like, 'Oh, he's good. I forgot that he was that good.' Yeah, [he's] close. It's still going to be a process. Still, the Spurs aren't going to take [any] risks. It's still going to be, like I said, a couple of weeks, three weeks. They're not going to take any risks. But he's looking good so far. What he did with me, he's looking good."
Jabari Young: Though Popovich will have the final word, Parker said he could see Kawhi back in about 3 weeks. Asked him how Kawhi looked while practicing with him #Spurs pic.twitter.com/BUVqAEhCdk
The Spurs list Kawhi Leonard, who hasn’t played yet this season because of right quadriceps tendinopathy. With the Spurs’ 106-86 win over the Hornets on Saturday night, Leonard has sat out all 19 games this season, one more than he missed the previous two regular seasons combined. Leonard has been sidelined since just before the start of the preseason with what the Spurs are calling right quadriceps tendinopathy. The ailment first showed up last season and has resulted in what Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has termed a “difficult” rehabilitation for the two-time All-Star and two-time defensive player of the year. “They are perplexed by how long it’s taken him to get better,” a source said of the Spurs.
Tom Orsborn: Same old same old for #Spurs injury report vs. Hornets: Leonard, Parker, White remain out.
Leonard needs to advance through a rehabilitation process that comprises several steps, including individual work followed by 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 drills, before he can get full clearance to return to the court. According to sources, Leonard is currently engaged in on-court work but hasn't yet advanced far enough to receive clearance to return. The club is reluctant to offer a specific timeline for Leonard's return because there's a level of unpredictability involved with rehabilitation from quadriceps tendinopathy, a source said.
In a storied career spanning more than 40 years at various levels, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he has "never" encountered the quadriceps issue that has kept Kawhi Leonard out of the lineup this entire season. "Never, never," Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. "What's really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that's pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys."
Pop just told me he's "never" throughout his entire coaching career come across the issue that Kawhi Leonard is experiencing with his quad. He said "what's weird" is that Tony Parker has essentially the same issue, "a quad tendon, but worse," but Kawhi isn't any closer to returning than TP
Fans should be “cautiously optimistic” Spurs franchise player Kawhi Leonard will return to the court sooner rather than later, as coach Gregg Popovich recently put it, provided his lingering condition hasn’t been diagnosed as chronic, an expert with the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City said Tuesday. “I think he’s going to be fine if they are truly saying what is wrong with him,” said Sabrina Strickland, an orthopedic sports surgeon who has been in practice more than 20 years. “Usually, it’s just a matter of doing the appropriate type of treatment to get better tissue in that area.”
A Spurs spokesman said Tuesday in a text message there still is “no timeline at this point” for Leonard’s return. Leonard has been sidelined since just before the start of the preseason with what the Spurs say is right quadriceps tendinopathy, a condition that can cause the tendon to tire from overuse.
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich provided an update Tuesday on Kawhi Leonard, who has missed 10 games due to right quadriceps tendinopathy, saying the two-time All-Star forward is "just coming along more slowly" than expected in rehabilitation. "It's just been more difficult for him to get through the rehab routine," Popovich said.
Tom Orsborn: Pop on Kawhi's slow progress: "He’s just coming along more slowly, for whatever reason. It’s just been more difficult for him to get through the rehab routine. His body hasn’t reacted the same way."
Manu Ginobili sees a silver lining in the Spurs being forced to play without star forward Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs are 6-4 without Leonard (right quadriceps tendinopathy) heading into Tuesday night’s home game against the Clippers (5-4). “Every time a team has to adjust to playing without its main player, others have to step up and gain confidence, and they end up being better players,” Ginobili said after shootaround Tuesday morning. “I think it is a great thing for guys like Bryn (Forbes), Brandon (Paul), even Kyle (Anderson), because they are having to be more responsible offensively, have more possessions, make more decisions. I think it is going end up being a great thing for the team long term. Short term, we miss him. We need him out there. When he comes back, we are going to have to re-adjust. So it’s going to take a little bit of time. But at this point, it’s making those guys step up and play a bigger role.”
Storyline: Kawhi Leonard Injury
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April 23, 2021 | 10:31 am EDT Update
Last week the Raptors released a video breakdown of his time with the team thus far. In the video, Trent Jr. spoke very highly of the franchise and said he feels like he’s part of something great. “For the first time in my career in the last three years, you know, I feel like I am wanted in a sense. They want me to be a part of something. They want me to help. So, I can’t even put it into words to be honest with you.”
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Clarke had gotten a high-end Heron Preston NASA puffer jacket and was so proud of it he kept it on even when he went to get shots up in the Garden after a game. NBA life was rapidly approaching and he was soaking it all in, looking out to the empty stands, hoping he would be playing on the parquet floor soon. After games I would introduce him to players he hadn’t met, but he didn’t need an introduction. They were all too familiar with his game from Ball is Life Instagram posts and were already telling him what he was going to do when he got to the league.
While he was a kid gravitating to the bright lights, Clarke remained humble and grateful through it all. He seemed incapable of being anything but happy and engaging. He truly lived life carefree, never phased by whatever hurdles were crossing his path. He was so confident in his gifts and the person he was that he didn’t need to be anything else to get where he wanted in life.
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