Kawhi Leonard injury update: Spurs star hoping to return 'soon'

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 star Kawhi Leonard is hopeful to return to action in the near future. The defensive ace has played a grand total of nine games this season, the last one against the Denver Nuggets on January 13.

In the aftermath of the All-Star break, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich dropped a bombshell by stating that Leonard hadn't made sufficient progress from his groin injury and could potentially sit out the season. A few weeks later, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Leonard had returned to the Spurs' practice facility with hopes of re-joining his teammates ahead of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

"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," Leonard told reporters on Wednesday (Thursday AEDT), via ESPN.

Despite being cleared to return by the Spurs doctors, Leonard sought for a second opinion on his right quad injury from specialists in New York. There were reports of "tremendous disconnect" between Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs organisation, which gave rise to speculation of a potential trade in the offseason. Leonard, a free agent in 2019, is eligible to sign a supermax extension with the Spurs this summer. 

Kawhi Leonard injury update. Spurs star clears the air

While addressing the media for the first time since January 13, Leonard explained his decision to take a conservative approach from his quad injury. "We've taken the right steps. We don't want to take any steps back and just aggravate things. Like I said: It's hard to explain. But obviously, I'm a competitor, and if I can play, I'm going to go out and play like I did in the nine games, just to test it out. It just wasn't where we wanted it to be."

The 26-year-old Leonard won't be joining the Spurs on the upcoming three-game road trip, which kicks off Thursday against the Golden State Warriors, followed by games at Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets. Contrary to reports that Leonard could ask for a trade from San Antonio, the All-Star forward reiterated his desire to finish his career with 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," Leonard said, downplaying reports of friction with the Spurs organisation. Stay tuned for the latest Kawhi Leonard injury update.