Although he has received medical clearance to return to the court, San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard is instead opting to continue his recovery from the right quadriceps tendinopathy that has cost him most of the 2017-18 NBA season.
According to ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski, Leonard only will play if "he has decided he can manage the pain of the injury."
Wojnarowski's report came the same day Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich cast doubt on Leonard returning at any point this year. Popovich said he'd "be surprised" if Leonard plays again between now and the end of the season, citing how little time is left in the regular season for the two-time All-Star to get ready for the playoffs.
The San Antonio Express-News' Jabari Young shared Popovich's comments:
Leonard didn't make his 2017-18 debut until the team's 95-89 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 12. He played in nine games before the Spurs announced he'd be out indefinitely to continue his recovery from the quad injury.
In January, Wojnarowski and ESPN.com's Michael C. Wright reported the Spurs' handling of Leonard's injury had been a source of consternation and "had a chilling impact" on the relationship between the team and Leonard.
In that report, Spurs general manager RC Buford acknowledged Leonard's recovery "has been difficult for everyone," but he insisted "there is no issue between the Spurs organization and Kawhi."