Report: Spurs Held 'Emotional' Players-Only Meeting Asking Kawhi Leonard to Play

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2018

San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard (2) walks up court during the first half in Game 5 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, May 9, 2017, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

The San Antonio Spurs reportedly held a players-only meeting Saturday in which they "implored" All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard to return from a nagging quad injury.

According to ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski, the meeting was "tense and emotional," and it featured Leonard telling his teammates that his absence was necessary.

Leonard has appeared in just nine games this season due to the ailment.

In response to Wojnarowski's report, Spurs guard Danny Green tweeted, "Couldn't be anymore incorrect lol."

ESPN's Lisa Salters reported that Leonard was possibly nearing a return to face the New Orleans Pelicans last week, but that did not happen.

Per Wojnarowski, Leonard has not been confident enough in the injury to return despite performing well in three-on-three and four-on-four workouts.

The Spurs' longest-tenured member, Tony Parker, was reportedly in charge of the players-only meeting.

Another veteran, Manu Ginobili, said Wednesday that the team is preparing to be without Leonard moving forward, according to ESPN.com's Michael C. Wright:

"He is not coming back. For me, he's not coming back because it's not helping [to think Leonard is returning]. We fell for it a week ago again. I guess you guys made us fall for it. But we have to think that he's not coming back, that we are who we are, and that we got to fight without him. That shouldn't be changing, at least until he is ready for the jump ball."

Last season, Leonard averaged 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game en route to finishing third in NBA MVP voting.

In nine games this season, Leonard has averaged 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 steals.

San Antonio clearly hasn't been the same without Leonard, as it is sixth in the Western Conference at 42-30. The Spurs are three games up on the ninth-place Denver Nuggets.

The Spurs are trending toward a top-eight playoff spot even without Leonard, but making a deep run seems unlikely if he is unable to return.

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