Kawhi Leonard injury update: Spurs star behind schedule for return

By @saihoops on
Kawhi Leonard injury update, San Antonio Spurs
May 14, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts after an injury during the third quarter in game one of the Western conference finals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Spurs 113-111. USA TODAY Sports / Kyle Terada

San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard is recovering slower than expected in rehabilitation from his thigh injury, according to coach Gregg Popovich. Leonard hasn't played competitive basketball since Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals when he was taken out of the series with an ankle injury. 

Leonard, the preseason favourite to win the MVP award, joined Spurs' training camp in the last week of September but hasn't been able to practice with the team. The team is also without veteran point guard Tony Parker, who underwent surgery in the summer to fix a ruptured left quadriceps tendon.

"It's just been more difficult for him to get through the rehab routine," coach Popovich said on Tuesday ahead of a home fixture against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Spurs have maintained a 7-4 record despite playing without Leonard and Parker.

Kawhi Leonard injury update: Spurs star not ready for scrimmages

Popovich revealed that Leonard needs to advance through various steps in the rehabilitation process before being cleared for contact basketball. "His body hasn't reacted the same way as Tony's. Tony's at the point where he's been going 5-on-5 and that kind of thing. He's not totally confident. It'll be a few more weeks. But he's definitely going the right direction. And so is Kawhi. It's just taking a little bit longer.

"I wouldn't want him to go right from rehab to jumping on the court. He's got to go 3-on-3, 5-on-5, feel comfortable because in the end, that confidence is what's going to ... anybody who's been out for any length of time has to get that back. Even if the doctors say, 'Yep, you're ready to go.' You're really not until you're mentally ready to go," Popovich, a former three-time NBA Coach of the Year, added.

Kawhi Leonard, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year, missed the entire preseason while rehabilitating tendinopathy in his left quadriceps, before being ruled out for the start of the 2017-18 NBA season. The Spurs are yet to provide a timeframe on Leonard's return. The 26-year-old Leonard is coming off the best season of his career in which he averaged 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists, besides finishing third in the MVP voting. Stay tuned for the latest Kawhi Leonard injury updates.