Zach Lowe: "Do you think the Spurs believe [if they wer…

3 years ago via ESPN
Zach Lowe: “Do you think the Spurs believe [if they were still alive in the playoffs] that Kawhi Leonard [could/should] be playing now?” Ramona Shelburne: “I think [the Spurs] think he can play. I don’t know if they think he should play. Because… they’ll seem him right now in three-on-three and he looks fine. You watch him go hard and he looks fine. But if you make him do certain tests, or isolate the right quad muscle, he still doesn’t have—that test is not quite there yet. And then he’ll still report pain in that area.”

More on Kawhi Leonard Injury

Ramona Shelburne: "I think Pop has a general sense of, 'My relationship with Kawhi seems to be strong,' and all that, but as far as specific details, I think that's where we get into—remember there was a little head fake when [Kawhi] was supposed to come back in March, [multiple people, including Adrian Wojnarowski] reported it and then it was, 'Nope, he's not ready yet.' I remember calling at the time and there was still optimism he'd come back a little later in March but that never happened.”
Ramona Shelburne: There are certain rules on how you're supposed to update injuries in the NBA, you're supposed to diagnose it and put real timelines on it. Well, that's what the team is supposed to do. But the team [San Antonio] is no longer in charge of this. All Pop can really say is, 'You'll have to ask Kawhi's group.' Then when we go ask his group, the answers are not forthcoming."
Leonard's camp believes his condition is the result of a series of contusions to the quadriceps that began with one very deep bruise in March 2016 that caused him to miss three games. Leonard was again listed with a "quad contusion" on the Feb. 6, 2017, injury report, when he was a late scratch before a game. But it wasn't until the end of last season when the severity of the injury became apparent. According to multiple sources, Leonard's camp has come to believe the issue has more to do with an ossification or hardening in the area where the muscle has been repeatedly bruised and then an atrophying, which in turn affected the tendons connecting the muscle to the kne
Initially the Spurs' doctors were calling the shots, with Leonard following their protocols for most of last summer in his workouts in San Antonio with team staffers and San Diego with his longtime personal trainer. But things began to change in August as Leonard continued to experience discomfort, according to sources. His agent, Mitch Frankel, and uncle, Dennis Robertson, began pressing the Spurs to consult outside opinions. Last fall, Dr. Keith Pyne, the managing partner of SportsLab NYC, who is affiliated with the Washington Nationals and New York Islanders, began consulting on the case.
Tom Orsborn: As expected, Kawhi Leonard is out for Game 5. Also as expected, Manu Ginobili is all in despite his late-game inury in Game 4: "Quad contusion, one of hundreds all career long," he said after Sunday's game. #Spurs
But is a reconciliation even possible? The relationship between Popovich and Leonard, multiple sources say, remains strong. The fact Aldridge remains a Spur at all — after he was upset enough last summer to ask for a trade — lends credence to the argument that it is always too early to judge these things.
When asked about his view on the Leonard situation, Aldridge made it clear that’s a topic he won't touch. “I have no comment,” he said as he walked away. “He has to do what’s best for him. That’s it. Nice to see you.”
Yet when it comes to understanding these Spurs, there’s a six-degrees-of-Kawhi component that won’t go away until his situation is resolved. The Spurs can offer him a five-year, $215 million extension this July, but there is increasing hope around the league they might trade him instead. His absence is only mysterious because of the breakdown in communication between the sides, with the Spurs having cleared Leonard to return only to see him stay away because his outside medical group — “his group,” as Popovich has repeatedly called them — has advised otherwise. Along the way, there’s an inevitable ripple effect on his teammates — on and off the floor.
“It’s tough,” Aldridge said of the circumstances of this season. “We’re depending on guys who really aren’t offensive guys, and I think that showed tonight. We have guys who really don’t score, and teams are exposing that and trying to make those guys score. ... But every guy in the locker room has grinded, and tried to get better, and you’ve got to consider that.” The ones who were there, anyway. When asked about his view on the Leonard situation, Aldridge made it clear that’s a topic he won't touch. "I have no comment,” he said as he walked away. “He has to do what’s best for him. That’s it. Nice to see you.”
Me: Do you have any expectation you’re going to see Kawhi? LA: No, we’re just playing. If you go day to day wondering when he’s going to be back, then you’re not in the moment and you’re not going to do your job. You have to do your job and put your best foot forward and focus on what you have to do to win. If he comes back, great. But this is us right now, that’s the attitude we have to have.
Me: How have you all sustained this season through all the injuries and Kawhi not being here? LaMarcus Aldridge: Just having the next-man-up kind of mentality, having the system where you can plug in guys and they can understand, or they can help the team in the ways they’re going to be good out there. And not giving in. It would have been easy to say we’ve had all this adversity this year and it’s not our year, but we have a bunch of guys that want to still be here. And we pushed through and guys got better, and the younger guys got some experience, and they’ve gotten better. It’s the whole team coming together.
The Spurs forward remains in New York to rehab the quad injury that has kept him out of action in all but nine games this season. Though some are undermining Leonard's motives, sources tell the Express-News his medical staff still have yet to clear the 26-year-old two-time Defensive Player of the Year, recommending he continue to sit out.
In collaboration with Spurs officials, Leonard followed through with a plan to travel back East earlier this month in hopes of receiving clearance to return to. But though progress is noticeable, doctors Leonard sought for a second opinion about his quad injury are still not ready to approve his return to play with the feeling he needs additional rehab under their supervision. Though national reports suggest Leonard and his camp decided to leave the team, sources told the Express-News the Spurs also suggested Leonard remain in New York to rehab following his routine checkup from doctors.
Leonard has been rehabbing in New York because that is where his medical staff is located, and he has not been cleared by his doctors, league sources said. Time has run short for Leonard — one of the league’s best players when healthy — to make a sensible return to the Spurs, who lost Game 1 of their first-round series to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. Leonard has made strides recently in training and is focused on regaining his full health, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Leonard’s rehab program in New York has been in collaboration and with the approval of the Spurs’ medical staff, league sources said. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told reporters on Thursday that his team did not expect Leonard to play in the series.
Asked Sunday if Leonard would rejoin the team during the series, Popovich told reporters: “You’ll have to ask Kawhi and his group that question.” One Spurs player said Saturday it would have been hard to incorporate Leonard in the final five regular-season games and would be unfair to his teammates for him to return now.
Chris Haynes: ESPN Sources: San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard still has not been cleared by his medical team. He is improving, but will continue rehabbing in New York. There is no timetable on his return, but he is being examined routinely.
Word is Leonard’s “people” would have to call Popovich and say he wants to rejoin the team to play in this first-round series, but such a scenario appears unlikely. One Spurs player said it would have been hard to incorporate Leonard in the final five regular-season games and would be unfair to his teammates for him to return now.
And to make matters even worse, Leonard didn’t make the trip to the Bay Area with the Spurs, killing any potential for moral support in a challenging playoff series against the NBA power Warriors. “Kawhi is rehabbing at his own pace with his own people,” Spurs center Pau Gasol told The Undefeated. “He hasn’t been around us. I’m sure he is trying to get healthy. I’m sure he is trying to get back. But that’s all I know. Really, as a teammate, as a player, that is all I know.”
Anthony Slater: Steve Kerr said the Warriors are preparing for a Spurs team without Kawhi: "We do not expect him to play"
Mark Medina: Draymond Green said “it doesnt matter” if Kawhi Leonard returns. Green has respect for Kawhi but he says he still takes Spurs seriously regardless
Paul Garcia: Kawhi Leonard is out for the Spurs’ regular season finale Wednesday at New Orleans. He will have played in 9 games this season.
Paul Garcia: Kawhi Leonard is OUT for the Spurs' game Monday against Sacramento per the Spurs. There's one regular season game left Wednesday at NOP.
Tom Orsborn: When it was suggested #Spurs might be leaving the door open for Kawhi's return out of respect for him, Pop said, "Players who are injured rehab and come back when they are ready. There is nothing else to it. I don’t know what else to tell you."
Tom Orsborn: Doc Rivers defended Kawhi and others seeking second opinions: "It's probably what they should all do...They just want to be sure. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with being sure." Said if it's OK for the rest of us to do it for, say, a heart ailment, why not NBA players?
Paul Garcia: Kawhi Leonard is OUT for Tuesday’s game against the Clippers the Spurs announced. There are 4 regular season games after Tuesday’s contest.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Kawhi Leonard is continuing his injury rehabilitation in New York with his own team of doctors, but Popovich is unsure when the star forward and "his group" will clear him to play. "I don't know when he's going to feel, he and his group are going to feel like they're ready to go," Popovich said Sunday before a game against Houston. "If I knew, he'd be here. When he and his group feel he's ready, he'll be ready."
Paul Garcia: Kawhi Leonard is OUT for Sunday’s Spurs-Rockets game. Leonard now has 5 regular season games to try to make a comeback.
Bobby Marks: Here is what a super max extension would look like for Kawhi Leonard this summer: 19/20 $37.8M 20/21 $40.8M 21/22 $43.8M 22/23 $46.9M 23/24 $49.9M The numbers certainly jump out at you.
Spurs staff has traveled to New York to meet with Leonard and stay abreast of his treatment and activity, sources said. Leonard has been using the National Basketball Players Association headquarters gymnasium facilities in recent days, sources said.
Leonard left San Antonio and his teammates in the aftermath of increasing tension levels surrounding his disconnect with the team and several near-returns that resulted in Leonard backing off and staying on the sidelines. Leonard's status was the focus of a Spurs player-only meeting on March 17, league sources told ESPN, and prominent teammates Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker have drawn attention for public comments about Leonard's status.
Tom Orsborn: Pop gave an indication door hasn't closed on Kawhi returning by discussing what would happen if he does, "The logical. Minutes would change for people, positions would change, the synchronicity of what you might want to do might have to return at some point."
Mark Willard: Kawhi Leonard's college coach Steve Fisher @FoxSportsRadio: "Kawhi is a basketball junkie. It's all he wants to do. When I had him, he played through every injury."
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."
Mike Finger: Popovich, for the record, says he did not know about last week’s infamous team meeting. “I wasn’t invited.”
Tom Orsborn: Tony Parker on his return from the career-threatening quad injury he suffered last May: I’ve been through it. It was a rehab for me for eight months. Same kind of injury (as Kawhi), but mine was a hundred times worse. But the same kind of injury. You just stay positive."
Leonard did receive support from some teammates, urging him not to return until he feels healthy enough, sources told the Express-News. The meeting lasted roughly five to 10 minutes with no clear update on Leonard's plans.
Brandon Paul: I made a satirical tweet which isn't far off from reality when it comes to players words being misconstrued..much like how you took Manu's comments. If that hurt your feelings I am sorry, wasn't my intent. I sincerely don't care about any so called "reports"
Brandon Paul: For months ppl have been talking about this as if it's first injury in NBA history, & for what? Then wonder why dudes don't want to talk to the media lol. I'm all about positivity. Let's talk about how unreal LA has been, or how Manu is 40 going on 23, or how...
Paul Garcia: Kawhi Leonard is OUT for Friday’s Spurs-Jazz game. He now has 9 games left to try to make a comeback this season.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources on ESPN: Spurs held players-only meeting, imploring Kawhi Leonard to return to lineup. Danny Green: Couldn’t be anymore incorrect lol.
With confusion continuing to build around Kawhi Leonard's season status, key team veterans on the Spurs took matters into their own hands. Sources tell the Express-News veterans held a players-only meeting that was led by Tony Parker after Saturday's win over the Minnesota Timberwolves to ask Leonard about his return.
The vets wanted to know if Leonard intended to play this season, and if so, when he planning to return. Leonard was reminded about the Spurs' status – in the middle of a playoff push with now 10 games remaining. According to sources, Leonard, who was caught off guard by the meeting, stood his ground. He spoke up telling his teammates that a return was still the goal. But Leonard offered no set date or guarantee about a return this season.
Spurs guard Tony Parker, a four-time NBA champion, quarterbacked the meeting with his teammates and Leonard after Saturday night's victory over Minnesota, league sources said. The conversation was described as tense and emotional at times, league sources said.
Several teammates spoke up, expressing frustration and confusion over a growing divide with Leonard that has created significant tension between the franchise star and the Spurs, league sources said. Leonard, 26, was resolute in response, insisting that he had good reason for sitting out all but nine games with a right quad injury this season, league sources said.
"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."
Tom Orsborn: Manu says his mindset toward Kawhi hasn't changed: "For me, he's not coming back, because (thinking he is) is not helping. We fell for it a week ago - again. I guess you guys (media) made us fall for it. But we have to think that he's not coming back. That we are who we are."
Tom Orsborn: Asked if Leonard could play in the playoffs without having returned during the regular season, Pop said, "I don’t speculate on any of that stuff." He also said that as of this point, Kawhi has not been cleared by his own medical people to return. #Spurs
Michael C. Wright: Kawhi Leonard will miss his 60th game tonight, and become the first Spur to miss 60+ games due to injury since Ian Mahinmi in 2008-09.
Tom Orsborn: Asked if Leonard is doing more than 3 on 3 these days, Parker said, "I have no idea. He is not practicing with us." #Spurs
Jeff McDonald: Tony Parker still holding out hope for Kawhi return but admits time is running out. "At some point, it makes no sense (to bring him back.)"
ESPN's Lisa Salters reported on Saturday that Leonard and the Spurs were targeting Thursday's home game for his return if he continued to progress in his recovery from a quadriceps injury that has caused him to miss all but nine games this season. A source told ESPN that Leonard's target date has always been "mid-March," suggesting that his return to the court will more likely be next week, as the Spurs have home games Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Jeff McDonald: Kawhi Leonard spent most of the game seated on the floor, instead of the bench for some reason. Pop (JOKING!!!!): "We'll give him a seat when he starts playing again."
Jeff McDonald: Pop says Kawhi "has to be cleared by his medical staff" before Spurs can put him on the court. Admits Kawhi is "frustrated" with the process and wants to play.
San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard will remain out through Thursday’s home game against the New Orleans Pelicans because of his lingering right quadriceps injury, league sources told Yahoo Sports. External optimism had built for Leonard’s potential return this week, but he is expected to remain out and will continue to evaluate his injury for a possible comeback before the season ends, league sources said.
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.
Kawhi Leonard could be available for the San Antonio Spurs as early as Thursday's game against the New Orleans Pelicans, sources tell ESPN's Lisa Salters.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN's Lisa Salters is reporting that San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard could return as early as Thursday's game against New Orleans. League sources tell me that barring a setback, Thursday vs. Pels is indeed the targeted return of Leonard to the lineup.
Jeff McDonald: Kawhi Leonard is not on the trip to GS-OKC-HOU, but as has been oft-reported already, there is gathering hope he might be able to return in the middle of this month.
Michael C. Wright: Ran into someone on a flight that would know a lot about how hard Kawhi Leonard is working to get back. Told "the big dog" is putting himself through some insane workouts to get back on the court. Also told he's close.
Storyline: Kawhi Leonard Injury
More HoopsHype Rumors
October 25, 2021 | 7:05 pm EDT Update
October 25, 2021 | 6:25 pm EDT Update