right quadriceps injury, The Vertical’s San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard will sit out the rest of the NBA playoffs as he recovers from a Shams Charania reported Sunday.
Leonard wasn’t even with the team for San Antonio’s 113-92 defeat to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. ESPN’s Chris Haynes reported Leonard’s medical team had yet to clear him for a return to the court.
While nobody expected Leonard to suit up for the first game of the Spurs’ playoff series with Golden State, many were surprised when he failed to at least appear on the bench in support of his teammates.
According to Charania, Leonard has been working out in New York City “in collaboration and with the approval of the Spurs’ medical staff.”
At this point, ruling Leonard out for the playoffs is the Spurs’ best move. They’re already down a game to the Warriors, and deactivating Leonard would end all of the questions about when he might play again.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich offered a curt response when asked whether Leonard will rejoin the team, per the San Antonio Express-News‘ Jeff McDonald:
Jeff McDonald @JMcDonald_SAEN
Any chance Kawhi rejoins the team during the series, Pop? Pop: “You’ll have to ask Kawhi and his group that question.”
San Antonio’s focus should now be on Leonard’s long-term future with the team.
The two-time All-Star can opt out of his contract after next season, so the Spurs may have to seriously contemplate trading him if he’s unwilling to sign a max extension. USA Today‘s Sam Amick reported the Los Angeles Clippers are already formulating trade offers should San Antonio make Leonard available.
Popovich acknowledged in January that LaMarcus Aldridge had asked for a trade before he and Aldridge discussed his role in the offense at length. Aldridge not only remained with the Spurs but became their most important player with Leonard missing so much of the year.
Once the season is over, the Spurs may be able to reach a similar resolution regarding any lingering friction between themselves and Leonard.