Gregg Popovich says he would be surprised if Kawhi Leonard plays again this season in brutal blow to Spurs

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  • Gregg Popovich said he’d be “surprised” if star forward Kawhi Leonard played again for the Spurs this season while speaking with reporters on Wednesday.
  • The news puts the Spurs, who are currently third in the West but just three games clear of the eighth seed, in a decidedly difficult spot as they enter the final stretch of the season.
  • Popovich maintained his stoic approach to the news, saying the team would simply have to move on: “Wishing and hoping doesn’t do anybody any good.”

While speaking with reporters on Wednesday, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said that he’d be “surprised” if Kawhi Leonard returns this season, leaving the Spurs in a tough spot as the team gears up for the postseason.

“We only have X number of games left in the season,” Popovich said, “and he’s still not ready to go. If by some chance he is, it’s going to be pretty late in the season, and it’s going to be a tough decision – how late you bring somebody back. So I’m just trying to be honest and logical.”

Leonard is recovering from a right quad injury he suffered last season, and has missed all but nine of the Spurs’ games so far during the 2017-18 campaign. While Leonard is undoubtedly the best players on the Spurs, Popovich maintained his stoic approach to the hand he’d been dealt, saying that the team simply needed to recognise the situation for what it was and keep playing their best basketball.

“We’ve got to move on,” Popovich said. “The team has to realise that this is who we are, this is who we have, this is who’s gonna play. Wishing and hoping doesn’t do anybody any good. We’ve got to do what we can to be the best team possible as the season winds down.”

His optimism, for lack of a better term, is not unfounded – the Spurs still sit in third place in the highly competitive Western Conference, despite Leonard’s prolonged absence from the court. That said, the team faces a rather daunting schedule to close out the season, and will need to pull off an impressive run to maintain that position.

The situation is made even more difficult for San Antonio thanks to a recent report detailing a growing divide between Leonard and the team, which claimed Leonard and his camp had been “disconnected” and “distant” from the Spurs throughout his absence.

You can watch Pop’s comments below.

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