Report: Kawhi Leonard Choosing Not to Return to Active Roster from Quad Injury

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2018

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JANUARY 13:  Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs looks on during the game against the Denver Nuggets on January 13, 2018 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
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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:

Jabari Young @JabariJYoung

Here is the Popovich comments on Kawhi. Not ready to say he’s out for the season...just would be surprised. So, there’s that ... https://t.co/C22ntHgbOY

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."