Kawhi Leonard injury update: Spurs star likely to return on Thursday

By @saihoops on
Kawhi Leonard trade, NBA Trade News
Dec 30, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) takes a free throw during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena. USA TODAY Sports / Raj Mehta

San Antonio Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard is expected to return to action during the team's game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday (Friday AEDT), according to reports. Leonard, who has played a total of nine games this season, was ruled out of action due to a right quad injury. 

Leonard, the former two-time Defensive Player of the Year, hasn't played a game since the Spurs' 12-80 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 13.

According to ESPN's Lisa Salters, Leonard has been riding a stationary bike and participating in 3-on-3 drills to simulate the physical contact of real games. In the aftermath of the All-Star break, there were legitimate fears that Leonard, the 2014 NBA Finals MVP, would miss the remainder of the season. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said that he "would be surprised" if Leonard would return ahead of April's playoffs. 

Last week, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski noted that Leonard returned to San Antonio's practice facility after rehabilitating for several weeks in New York City. "I don't have a set date right now (for my comeback). The progress I've been making has been great. (The pain) is diminishing. It's hard to explain, but I'm definitely better. I feel better, and I'm feeling more comfortable," the player said last Thursday AEDT.

Leonard, 26, also played down reports that his camp had requested a trade out of the Spurs. "The guys have been doing it all season. They've been playing great. I'm thankful for them, for the teammates that I have. They understand the situation that I'm in. They're playing well. I've just got to get back. But I can't come back unhealthy," he said. Stay tuned to this space for the latest Kawhi Leonard injury update.