Popovich on Kawhi Leonard: 'I'll be surprised if he returns this season'

Kawhi Leonard has played only 9 games this season

SAN ANTONIO – The season might be over for Spurs all-star forward Kawhi Leonard.

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich spoke at practice on Wednesday and said he would be surprised if Leonard returns to the court this season.

When asked why, Popovich said "Well, we only have X number of games left in the season and he's still not ready to go and by some chance he is, it will be pretty late in the season and it's going to be a tough decision," Popovich said. 

"That's why I am just trying to be honest and logical. I'll be surprised if he gets back this year," Popovich said.

Leonard has played in only nine games this season for San Antonio as he has struggled to get fully healthy from quadriceps tendinopathy.

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He missed the first 27 games of the season and returned on a minutes and game restriction.

The treatment and recovery did not go as planned and the Spurs decided to shut him down indefinitely before their game at Brooklyn on Jan. 17.

He has not returned to the court and rumors circulated a week later about his relationship with the organization. The report said Leonard had grown "distant" from the organization. 

Popovich said there was no truth to the rumors and the Spurs were taking a cautious approach with Leonard as they would anyone else on the roster.

"I don’t see this as anything different that we have done with any other player, but some people for some reason want to do that (and) that’s OK,” Popovich said on Jan. 23. “But it doesn’t affect our team or me, or anybody else."

The Spurs are 35-24 and currently clinging to third place in the Western Conference. They have stayed afloat despite a myriad of injuries, but Wednesday's news was a major blow to the franchise's hope for a deep playoff run this season.

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