SAN ANTONIO – Kawhi Leonard is in the building, but a timetable for his return remains in the air.
Leonard was not seen during media availability at Spurs practice on Tuesday, but Danny Green confirmed he is back in San Antonio.
"He’s here, he’s around, we see him," Green said. "A friend, family, a nice face to see, but playing wise if I was a medical staff or trainer, they probably would tell me some stuff, but that’s above my pay grade."
ESPN reported on Monday the Spurs all-star forward was planning to resume practice soon with the Spurs and target a return to the lineup in late March.
The report came days after head coach Gregg Popovich said he would be surprised if Leonard made it back before the regular season. Leonard had reportedly been in New York getting a second opinion on his quad injury.
Kawhi Leonard is at the Spurs Practice facility according to Danny Green but he has received no status update.— Greg Simmons (@GregSimmonsKSAT) February 27, 2018
#Spurs news: Danny Green at practice today confirmed Kawhi Leonard is in SA and in the building, but did not speculate on a return timetable, "that's above my pay grade" #KSATnews #KSATsports pic.twitter.com/LUfcpnjk84— RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) February 27, 2018
Manu Ginobili said the team is encouraged by the news, but the mindset for the Spurs has to stay the same.
"It hasn't happened at this point so the better approach is he’s not coming back," Ginobili said. "Let’s play with what we have and try to get as good as we can without him.”
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Without Leonard in the lineup for most of the season, the Spurs have managed to stay in the hunt for home court advantage in the first round with 21 games remaining in the season.
Adding Leonard would give San Antonio a significant boost, but the Spurs are not jumping to any conclusions.
“We’re facing the end of the season as if he’s not coming," Ginobili said. "Then if he does awesome, we’ll figure it out, well try to adjust as soon as possible, but at this point, we don’t know, we just have to keep fighting and working hard."
The Spurs open a three-game home stand against New Orleans on Wednesday night.
#Spurs guard Manu Ginobili on Kawhi Leonard...ends by saying he will play tomorrow night, then jokes "I guess you were more excited to know about Kawhi" #KSATnews #KSATsports #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/Me9c9HAraO— RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) February 27, 2018
Kawhi Leonard may be back for the Silver and Black by the end of this season, after all.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Michael C. Wright reported on Monday that Leonard is planning to practice this week and possibly return to the lineup in March.
Leonard has played in only nine games this season as he has battled quadriceps tendinopathy.
The news comes days after head coach Gregg Popovich said he would be surprised if Leonard returned this season.
It's also the latest twist in Leonard's complicated return from injury.
Hours after Popovich's comments to the media on Wednesday, ESPN reported Leonard had been medically cleared to play, but had elected to sit out until he felt comfortable managing the injury.
According to Monday's report, Leonard has been in New York for nearly three weeks working out and seeking further consultation.
He has not been with the team, but reportedly has returned to San Antonio with intentions to practice at the Spurs facility.
Wojnarowski reported Leonard isn't expected to immediately start taking part in full 5-on-5 practices, but the hope is to return to game action some time next month.
The Spurs are 36-25 and currently in third place in the Western Conference standings.