Return For Spurs All-Star Doubtful, Gregg Popovich Says

Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs battles for the ball against Trevor Ariza of the Houston Rockets during Game Three of the NBA Western Conference Semi Finals at Toyota Center

The San Antonio Spurs may have to make do without superstar Kawhi Leonard for the rest of the 2017-18 season.

Leonard spent 10 days before the All-Star break consulting with a specialist on his right quad injury.

Multiple players expressed optimism regarding Leonard's potential return, including veteran forward Rudy Gay, who will return from heel bursitis on Friday, when the Spurs hit the road to face the Denver Nuggets.

If Leonard returns this season, it will be because he can manage the pain of the injury.

The latest report of tension isn't the first time Leonard's injury has provided drama.

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich updated Leonard's status this evening.

Sure the Spurs weren't at the very top of anyone's list of title favorites, but given Popovich's postseason resume, they couldn't be counted out, either. Semantics matter here and Pop said he'd be surprised if Kawhi came back at any point this year, but didn't say he's not going to.

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Leonard missed the first 27 games of the campaign before returning to action December 12.

"We've got to move on", Popovich told reporters Wednesday at the team's practice. "We only have X number of games left in the season, and he's stil not ready to go". "And if by some chance he is, it's going to be pretty late into the season, and it's going to be a tough decision".

With the All-Star break coming to an end, the San Antonio Spurs are now focusing on competing for the championship this year but will have to do so without their star player.

The uncertainty surrounding this season - and Leonard's future, which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 - has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

Leonard, the Most Valuable Player of the 2014 NBA Finals and a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, has played just nine games this season because of recurring tendinopathy in his right quadriceps. If the idea of returning home to bring his boyhood team a championship appeals to Leonard, he could end up being the rare Spurs star who leaves what many consider to be the best run franchise, not just in the National Basketball Association but all of sports, for greener pastures. "We've got to do what we can to be the best team possible".

San Antonio now has a record of 35-24, which is good for third in the Western Conference.

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