Storyline: Kawhi Leonard Injury

391 rumors in this storyline

Peter Vecsey: In a cell conversation yesterday with Kawhi’s fringe friend (see above car quote), my first words were ones I’ve often promoted: “You know, I’m only as good as my source. What can you tell me?” Enough so that I’m thoroughly disinclined to believe Kawhi and Pop can’t patch things up, predominantly because their relationship isn’t in need of a large patch. From what I’m told, they’ve never exchanged harsh words or gone off on each other. A single problem existed last season that would not go away: Kawhi’s caregivers and doctors felt his repaired quad wasn’t entirely healthy when he returned 28 games into the season. After nine, some very effective, minute-monitored games, they insisted he return to rehab.

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Peter Vecsey: But there is a reason they’re called ‘team’ doctors, and not players’ doctors … they’re paid by the team. “The media made it seem as if the Spurs and Kawhi’s people weren’t communicating. Like they didn’t know where he was and how things were going,” my source said. “They were in constant touch. I think Pop made Mitch wear a helmet cam. “The Spurs had their opinion regarding what should be done. Kawhi’s people disagreed. I don’t see any reason why both sides can’t move forward together.”
1 week ago via Uproxx

Charania reported that Kawhi Leonard is close to 100 percent and expected to be ready for training camp. The Spurs still intend to “mend fences” with the guard and Charania noted that the two sides are much closer to a resolution than it appears from afar. He insisted that Leonard didn’t “go rogue” by rehabbing in New York away from the team during the season, and said he’s been close to Spurs staffers and Gregg Popovich as he mourned the death of his wife.

Leonard played in just nine regular season games in 2017-18 despite receiving clearance from the Spurs’ medical staff to return from a quadriceps ailment. His decision to continue rehabbing away from the club under the supervision of his own medical team created a rift between him and the Spurs, as well as many of their fans. “It’s a bit of a dark cloud,” [Spurs advertising executive] Aguilar said of the saga, which ranks among the strangest in club history.

Rudy Gay: With that situation, it’s tough being injured. I know it was tough for him. It’s tough when you’re sitting out and knowing what you can do and not being able to contribute. I’ve done it! I’ve been there and had to sit out. Not being able to play basketball is hard. This is all we know. Being healthy is rare in this business. That’s why I’m taking this summer to get myself 100 percent healthy and become the best player I can be. I guess our timing was off, you know?
2 months ago via ESPN

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.”
2 months 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.”
2 months ago via ESPN

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
2 months ago via ESPN

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.

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: 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.

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.

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.”
3 months 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 months 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.
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