Injured San Antonio Spurs star forward Kawhi Leonard is planning to work out with the team this week and hopes to return to the court sometime in March, ESPN reports.
The report comes as a bit of a surprise after Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters last week that he did not expect to see Leonard play again this season.
“I’ll be surprised if he returns this season,” Popovich said on Wednesday. “We only have X number of games left in the season and he’s still not ready to go. If by some chance he is, it’s going to be pretty late into the season. It’s going to be a tough decision. How late do you bring somebody back? I’m just trying to be honest and logical. I’d be surprised if he gets back this year.”
Here is the Popovich comments on Kawhi. Not ready to say he’s out for the season…just would be surprised. So, there’s that … pic.twitter.com/C22ntHgbOY
— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) February 21, 2018
Leonard had reportedly been medically cleared by team staff to resume playing after a lingering quad injury has kept him out of all but nine of the team’s games this season. Leonard, 26 and a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, has apparently been concerned about the long-term impact of returning from the injury before he feels his body is ready.
ESPN reports of differences of opinion between the team and Leonard over how to treat the injury and his timeline to return having “had a chilling impact” on his relationship with the team.
The Spurs denied this report.
“There is no issue between the Spurs organization and Kawhi,” [Spurs general manager R.C.] Buford told ESPN. “From Day 1 all parties have worked together to find the best solutions to his injury.”
The latest ESPN report states that Leonard has left New York, where he spent three weeks seeking independent consultation on his injury, to return to San Antonio. He is not expected to participate in full practices immediately, but the plan is to do so soon, according to the report.