Gregg Popovich: Kawhi Leonard Not Ready to Return

by March 14, 2018
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Kawhi Leonard “needs a little bit more work” before he can re-join the Spurs’ lineup, reports head coach Gregg Popovich.

Pop told reporters Tuesday that the two-time NBA All-Star is frustrated that he can’t hoop just yet for San Antonio, which has dropped to 10th place in the Western Conference standings.

Leonard’s medical team hasn’t given him the green light as he continues to rehab from a lingering right quadriceps tendinopathy injury, which caused him to miss the first 27 games of the season.

Per the Express-News:

“Like anybody else, he’s frustrated,” Popovich said before Tuesday’s game against the Orlando Magic. “He wants to be playing. He’s competitive. It’s been a tough year in that regard for him. But the first step is he’s got to be cleared by his medical staff that he’s seeing.

“Until he gets cleared, we can’t make a decision on when he’s coming back,” Popovich continued. “So, once he gets cleared, then he and I can sit down and talk and see what we think about an appropriate time to come back. But that clearance has to be obtained first.”

Asked when Leonard, who has only played nine games this season, does get cleared if the team will still consider allowing him to return, Popovich said: “That’s a negotiation between the player and the coach to figure out what’s best.

“He knows very well out history is pretty documented,” added Popovich. “If we’re going to err, we’re going to err on the conservative side because his career is going to be of paramount importance to us. It’s not the game or the playoffs or this or that. It was the same way with Tim (Duncan) early on when he hurt a knee one year, and we didn’t let him go in the playoffs. I don’t know if it’s going to be this situation. We don’t know. But his career is going to be paramount in our thinking as we make a decision.”