One of the most important storylines of the 2017-2018 NBA season has also been especially confusing.
Kawhi Leonard, who finished in third place in last year’s MVP voting, played in just nine regular-season games for the San Antonio Spurs due to a quadriceps injury. After attempting to return a couple times, he recently left the team for the second time in order to continue rehabbing the ailment with his own private team of doctors in New York City.
Leonard, who is eligible to sign a super-max extension with the Spurs in the summer, has been criticized for his perceived unwillingness to return to the court, but he, his group and the Spurs have all indicated that he’s simply trying to regain his full health.
After getting blown out by a Steph Curry-less Golden State Warriors squad in Game 1 of their opening-round series, the Spurs could certainly use Leonard more than ever. Since Curry will miss the rest of the series, Leonard's presence would give the Spurs a better shot at pulling off an improbable upset.
But, it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports dropped a bomb on Spurs fans and NBA fans alike on Sunday night.
“San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard is expected to miss the remainder of the postseason as he continues to rehabilitate his right quadriceps injury, league sources told Yahoo Sports,” Charania reported.
He added, “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.”
When asked about Leonard’s status, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich indicated that the ball was in Leonard’s court, so to speak.
"You'll have to ask Kawhi and his group that question," Popovich told reporters on Sunday, per ESPN’s Michael C. Wright. "So far, they say that he's not ready to go. So we can't do anything until that happens. Then, we would have to decide what's going on from there. But that's the first thing that has to happen.”
Without Leonard, the Spurs will continue to face an uphill battle moving forward.
Most importantly, if Leonard is indeed out for the year, the question now becomes whether or not he will be suiting up in San Antonio next season or not.
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