SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard, who just last season was named to the NBA All-Star starting lineup for the second time in his career, has now been shut down indefinitely after appearing in only nine games this season.
Before tipoff of the Spurs game against the Nets in Brooklyn on Wednesday night, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich revealed the reason behind the team’s decision to hold Leonard out indefinitely.
“He was having pain, like not right after games, but maybe the next day or two,” Popovich told reporters outside the Spurs locker room in the Barclays Center. “If we err, I’m going to do it on the conservative side and just decided we’re going to go back to the rehab and strength and all that and try to get him more whole before we get him back on the court.”
Leonard has missed 37 of the Spurs first 46 games this season, which included three listed as a result of a small muscle tear in his left shoulder. But the majority of his absences are attributed to the right quad injury that had the 26-year-old sidelined the first 27 games of the season.
“We’re not going to screw it up now. We’re just going to keep doing what we do,” Popovich said. “We didn’t feel he was ready. His confidence level wasn’t there, so we decided to give it some more time.”
What caught a lot of Spurs fans off guard was Leonard’s status as out indefinitely. The five-time NBA championship coach had a more lighthearted answer for providing no timetable for Leonard’s return.
“We said indefinite just so that I wouldn’t have to keep answering your questions every day,” Popovich said.
Leonard is no longer with the team on this current road trip. He was sent home Wednesday aboard a commercial flight that arrived in San Antonio shortly before 5 p.m. to continue the rehabilitation of his injury.