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.”
Kawhi Leonard has played in just nine games this season while struggling to recover from right quadriceps tendinopathy. "We are too close to the playoffs to keep waiting," Manu Ginobili said. "So if he is back, awesome. We will welcome him. But if he isn't, we just have to go to battle with what we have. We have had a tough season, but we are still hanging around in the third spot, and we are still optimistic about our chances."
Kawhi Leonard reportedly got medical clearance, but was not seen at the Spurs' first practice after the break on Wednesday. Adrian Wojnarowski made it clear on Thursday the decision to return will be Leonard's call. "He’s been cleared medically by the Spurs' doctor and outside doctors, and it’s on him, his own threshold of pain or discomfort, about when he will return,” Wojnarowski said.
After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he's prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.
Away from the Spurs to pursue second opinions in New York, Kawhi Leonard recently utilized the gymnasium inside the National Basketball Players Association headquarters in Manhattan for workouts, league sources told ESPN. The Spurs had team personnel accompanying Leonard in New York, sources said.
The injury, rehabilitation and timetable for a return has complicated the Spurs and Leonard's relationship, causing tension and fraying the fabric of what was once a strong partnership, league sources told ESPN. The uncertainty surrounding this season -- and Leonard's future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 -- has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.
The bad news for the Spurs, Kawhi Leonard might be done for the season. “On Kawhi, I’ll be surprised if he returns this season,” Popovich told the media. “We only have x number of games left in the season and he’s still not ready to go. And, if by some chance he is, it’s going to be pretty late in the season and it’s going to be a tough decision and you know, how late you bring somebody back. That’s why I’m just trying to be honest and logical. I’ll be surprised if he gets back this year.”
When asked if the Spurs will rule out Kawhi Leonard for the season, Gregg Popovich responded: “I’m ready to say what I just said.” “We’ve got to move on,” continued Popovich of the team’s mindset. “The team has to realize this is who we are. Wishing and hoping doesn’t do anybody any good.”
Michael C. Wright: Gregg Popovich just said he'd be surprised if Kawhi Leonard returns this season.
Paul Garcia: LaMarcus Aldridge on Kawhi Leonard at today's AS media session: "We've got to get him back. He's trying to get healthy now, so we're going to let him get healthy"
Paul Garcia: "I'll be the same person," said Aldridge on if his game will change when Leonard returns. "I have to be who I am now for us to have a chance to win it."
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.
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.
Paul Garcia: The Spurs have announced Rudy Gay and Kawhi Leonard are OUT for Wednesday's game at Phoenix.
In certain instances in the past, including at least one involving Leonard, the Spurs have been reluctant to entertain second opinions from outside doctors, a person familiar with the team's medical approach told B/R. "They think their medical people are so great," the person said.
RJ Marquez: #Spurs news: While discussing Kawhi Leonard rumors and his rehab, Gregg Popovich admitted an injured Tim Duncan could have played in the 2000 NBA playoffs, but Popovich did not want to risk Duncan's future. 4 more titles later, the decision worked out
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.
"I don't even know why you say it's a soap opera," Popovich said. "Some people wrote some articles. I understand it, but soap opera? It's a soap opera if we talk about it every day, I guess. I don't get it. We won't talk about it. There's nothing to talk about other than what we've already said.”
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."
Paul Garcia: Pop on both the Spurs and Kawhi being frustrated about his injury situation: "Nobody wants to come back more than Kawhi Leonard. I think I'm number two. His teammates want him back, everybody wants him back."
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.
In an interview with ESPN, Buford rejected the reporting of turbulence between the franchise and Leonard. "There is no issue between the Spurs organization and Kawhi," Buford told ESPN. "From Day 1 all parties have worked together to find the best solutions to his injury."
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.
Jeff McDonald: Gregg Popovich explained more about shutting down Kawhi Leonard: “He didn’t re-injure it. He was having pain, not right after the game, but the next day at noon or that kind of thing. The pain wasn’t dissipating. It wasn’t going in the right the direction. It was going the other way."
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."
Paul Garcia: The Spurs have announced Kawhi Leonard (return from injury management) is OUT today at Atlanta. So is Rudy Gay (heel).
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).
Tom Orsborn: Asked if Leonard is looking better for Friday's game vs. Lakers, Pop said, "We'll see," and then reiterated the shoulder injury is a "tough break" for Kawhi given that he was starting to return to form. #Spurs
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
Tom Osborn: A happy - but still stone-faced - Kawhi on his return: “I’m just happy to be out there, just to play the game and enjoy the things I missed (even)missing shots, losing games, making mistakes, just everything. I missed everything on the court and I’m just glad I was able to play.”
Tom Orsborn: Carlisle on Leonard returning vs. his Mavs: "We're going to try our best to keep him from getting in his rhythm, but it's hard. He's great and he's going to be a perennial MVP candidate." #Spurs
Michael C. Wright: Pop just now: "Kawhi is back." He'll be on a minutes restriction. espn.com/espn/now?nowId…
Tom Orsborn: This quote from Manu kind of sums up the entire Leonard affair: "“It was never expected we would play 20-plus games without him. It was not in our heads. It was expected with Tony, but (not Leonard).” #Spurs
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
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.
Sooner rather than later appears to be coming soon. All-Star small forward Kawhi Leonard accompanied the Spurs on their two-game road swing that opens tonight in Memphis. He is on the road to complete what coach Gregg Popovich calls “the last steps” in a months-long rehabilitation from a quadriceps injury.
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
Tom Orsborn: Asked about Leonard's status, Ginobili noted that Kawhi is "working hard" but that his injury has been more "rebellious" than Parker's. #Spurs
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.
“Typically, with rest and physical therapy, they get over it and get back (in action) pretty quickly,” Strickland said. “But with ones that are more chronic, that’s when players tend to have more aggressive treatment, something more evasive than just the rest-and- rehab route, such as platelet rich plasma (therapy), and that can slow them down for a while because you have to allow some time for that to work.” Strickland said, given how long Leonard has been out, that could be the case with him. The Spurs haven’t made Leonard available to the media since the start of training camp.
January 20, 2022 | 7:53 pm EST Update
Shams Charania: Forward Paul Millsap and the Brooklyn Nets have agreed to find the four-time All-Star a new team where he can have a greater contribution, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Connor Letourneau: Steve Kerr on James Wiseman: “This has just not been an easy one to figure out. We’re still hopeful he’ll be cleared for contact soon, but there hasn’t been an opportunity for that to happen this week.”