Popovich not expecting Kawhi Leonard to return this season

Michael C. Wright

And if by some chance he is, it's going to be pretty late into the season and it's gonna be a tough decision how late you bring somebody back.

"We've got to move on", said Popovich, following the sad news involving his star player.

The Spurs are not yet prepared to officially rule him out for the season.

"Kawhi, I'll be surprised if he returns this season", Popovich told reporters on Wednesday.

Leonard, hindered by tendinopathy in his right quadriceps, made his season debut December 12 but played only nine games.

Pop continued - "I'm just trying to honest and logical... I'll be surprised if he gets back this year".

San Antonio announced on January 17 that Leonard was out "indefinitely", and the team has not provided a timetable for his return since then. Moreover, it's just hard to recognize these Spurs.

Even without Leonard, the Spurs are in play for the 3 seed in the West with a 35-24 overall record.

Kawhi returned in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors and was dominating in Golden State until Zaza Pachulia undercut him, aggravating his ankle injury and knocking him out for the rest of the playoffs.

With Leonard out, the Spurs' chances of winning another National Basketball Association title have taken a huge hit.

Losing Kawhi for basically the entire year is a downer, but the Spurs aren't above keeping a guy out one year and setting him up for a future return.

At the very least, Leonard is under contract through the 2019-20 season. If there's a franchise that isn't about rushing a guy back it's San Antonio, but you can never lose hope that he'll be back whenever the playoffs roll around.

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