Kawhi Leonard Reportedly Could Return from Quad Injury Thursday vs. Pelicans

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2018

San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) celebrates sinking a basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks onTuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard reportedly could return from a quad injury as early as Thursday against the New Orleans Pelicans, according to ESPN's Lisa Salters.

"Well good for them," head coach Gregg Popovich said in response to the report, per Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. "I’m glad they’re reporting that. I don’t know what they reported. I don’t hear. I don’t worry about reports."

Leonard has missed all but nine games this season for a Spurs team that is fifth in the Western Conference at 37-28.

The 26-year-old missed the first 27 games of the season due to his ailing quad, and after returning to the lineup for nine contests, he landed back on the shelf, having last played on Jan. 13.

On Wednesday, Leonard said that he hopes to be back "soon," per Tom Orsborn of MySanAntonio.com.

In nine games, Leonard is averaging 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 steals.

Last season, he finished third in NBA MVP voting after putting up 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per contest in the best statistical campaign of his career.

The Spurs have sorely missed Leonard, who is a two-time All-Star, two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and one-time NBA champion, and he was also named the 2014 NBA Finals MVP.

Aside from LaMarcus Aldridge and Leonard, veterans Rudy Gay and Pau Gasol are the only other Spurs players who are averaging double digits in scoring this season with 11.3 and 10.7 points per game, respectively.

Kyle Anderson has been the primary starter at small forward during Leonard's absence, but Leonard returning would go a long way toward strengthening San Antonio's starting lineup and bench and making it a threat in the Western Conference come playoff time.