Gregg Popovich gave an ominous answer as to when Kawhi Leonard might return

Patrick Smith/Getty ImagesGregg Popovich said on Sunday that Kawhi Leonard’s return was up to him and his team.
  • San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich made clear on Sunday that a potential heroic playoff return of Kawhi Leonard would be strictly up to Leonard and his advisors.
  • Leonard has played in just nine games this season due to injury despite being cleared by team doctors in February.
  • Second opinions from Leonard’s advisors and doctors have kept him from returning to the court.
  • Leonard’s extended absence has caused a significant rift in the Spurs’ normally stoic locker room and could have substantial ramifications regarding his potential extension.

The San Antonio Spurs are in a tight spot in the NBA playoffs.

Facing the reigning champions and already down 1-0 to the Golden State Warriors, there is little doubt that All-Star Kawhi Leonard would be a welcome addition to the Spurs. Unfortunately for them, such a return looks highly doubtful.

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was asked about the possibility of Leonard coming back to help the Spurs during their playoff push on Sunday, and his answer didn’t exactly inspire hope at the prospect.

“You’ll have to ask Kawhi and his group that question,” Popovich said. “So far, they say that he’s not ready to go. So we can’t do anything until that happens. Then, we would have to decide what’s going on from there. But that’s the first thing that has to happen.”

Asked whether Leonard would be a value to the team on the sidelines supporting his teammates, Popovich deflected the question a bit, saying “He’s rehabbing right now in New York trying to get healthy.”

You can watch a clip of Popovich’s response below.

Kawhi Leonard’s extended absence has been a cloud hovering over the Spurs for almost the entire second half of the NBA season. Leonard has played in just nine games this year due to injury but had reportedly been set to return to the team back in February. However, second opinions were given by Leonard’s advisors and doctors have continued to keep him off the court, leading to a severe rift in the ordinarily stoic Spurs locker room.

The ordeal has thrown Leonard’s future with the Spurs into question. While he’ll qualify for a $US219 million “super-max” extension this offseason, there’s reason to believe that both he and the Spurs would be wary of such an investment in each other.

The Spurs will continue their series with the Warriors on Monday night at Golden State.

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