Popovich says Kawhi Leonard needs to be cleared by his medical team before return

Leonard has missed 59 games this season

By RJ Marquez - Digital Content Curator

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

SAN ANTONIO - Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gave more insight into Kawhi Leonard’s possible return to the lineup before San Antonio played Orlando on Tuesday night at the AT&T Center. 

After reports surfaced that Leonard would return at some point this week, Popovich told the media that he has not been medically cleared and nothing has been decided.

"Like anybody else, he (Kawhi) is frustrated. He wants to be playing he’s competitive. It’s been a tough year in that regard for him, but the first step is he’s got to be cleared by his medical staff that he is seeing and until he gets cleared, we can’t make a decision on when he is coming back,” Popovich said. "Once he gets cleared, then he and I can sit down and talk and see what we think about an appropriate time to come back, but that clearance has to be obtained first.”

Leonard has missed 59 games this season and it remains unclear if the Spurs all-star forward will return this season.

Last week, Leonard said he was progressing from his quadriceps tendinopathy, but did not want to suffer any setbacks.

After Tuesday's game, San Antonio will only have 14 games remaining as they fight for a playoff spot.

Popovich said he saw Leonard work out on Tuesday and added, "he needs a little bit more work.”   

The Spurs head coach said nothing will override the medical staff, and the final decision on a return will be made between Leonard and himself.

"His career is going to be of paramount importance to us," Popovich said. "So it’s not the game or the playoffs, this or that. It was the same thing with Tim early on when he hurt a knee one year and we didn’t let him go in the playoffs. His career will be paramount in our thinking as we make a decision.”

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