The latest NBA rumors are that San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard will probably not be playing anymore for the rest of the season, per head coach Gregg Popovich. That comes as bad news for a team that has been among the top contenders in the Western Conference, as they were hoping for Leonard’s return to boost them in terms of their position in the standings. Here’s the latest on what coach Popovich had to say and the Spurs’ outlook going forward.
In a report from the Express-News‘ Jabari Young on Wednesday, it’s noted that coach Greg Popovich spoke to the media following a practice session and the news regarding Leonard wasn’t the best. Popovich said with regard to the former All-Star and NBA MVP finalist, “I’d be surprised if he returns this season.” Popovich would elaborate on his answer by saying at this point that they only have so many games to go in the season and if there’s some chance that Leonard can play, “it’s gonna be a tough decision.” Clearly, the team will need to weigh how to work Leonard back into being able to play, if that presents itself. They may also opt to rest him for those remaining games for use in the playoffs.
Leonard has played in just nine games this current season and seems to now be possibly shut down for the remainder of it. The Spurs’ small forward has been dealing with tendinopathy in his right quadriceps since January. He last participated in the team’s win against the Denver Nuggets on January 13, scoring 19 points to go with eight rebounds, four assists, and four steals in just over 28 minutes of time on the court. Leonard was previously sidelined during last year’s playoffs with an ankle injury which caused him to get a late start to this season.
The good news for the San Antonio Spurs is that another one of their key players will be back. Rudy Gay, who was the Spurs’ big offseason acquisition in free agency, is expected to play on Friday night against the Nuggets, giving the team a boost. Gay is currently the team’s third-leading scorer with 11.5 points per game, trailing only Leonard and team leader LaMarcus Aldridge. Expect to see those numbers jump as San Antonio will look to Gay as an additional scoring option to work with Aldridge.
As of this report, the Spurs are 35-24 overall and 10 games behind the Houston Rockets in the Southwest division standings. In the Western Conference standings, San Antonio has managed to hold onto third place overall, despite Kawhi Leonard’s lack of availability due to injury concerns. While the team still has a capable roster for the postseason, it’s going to be hard for them to contend with Houston and/or Golden State in a lengthy playoff series without Leonard.