San Antonio Spurs: Surviving without Kawhi Leonard indefinitely
By Rob Wolkenbrod
The San Antonio Spurs could miss Kawhi Leonard even longer than expected if head coach Gregg Popovich’s words are any indication.
At a glance, when Kawhi Leonard was announced to miss the entire San Antonio Spurs Preseason, it looked like a precaution. He could have tweaked something (in this case, his quad) and needed a few days of rest. No big deal, right?
Well, here we are, eight days into November and 11 games in. The Spurs are 7-4, having won their third consecutive after dropping the previous four. Still no Leonard.
Before the win against the Los Angeles Clippers, head coach Gregg Popovich provided an update on his superstar’s status, via ESPN.com. No proper timetable was given, with Popovich not sounding enthusiastic about the immediate prospects of Leonard’s return to the court:
“He’s just coming along more slowly for whatever reason. It’s just been more difficult for him to get through the rehab routine. So his body hasn’t reacted the same way as Tony [Parker]. Tony’s at the point where he’s been going five-on-five and that kind of thing. He’s not totally confident. It’ll be a few more weeks. But he’s definitely going the right direction. And so is Kawhi. It’s just been taking a little bit longer.”
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Given the nearly 10-year difference between Leonard and Tony Parker, it’s somewhat of a surprise that the recovery has been better for the latter. The severity of the San Diego State product’s ailment wasn’t revealed — nor was how he suffered it — so it’s impossible to speculate why it’s taking so long.
Leonard’s last on-court appearance came in Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals in May, against the Golden State Warriors. He suffered an ankle injury after a controversial closeout from center Zaza Pachulia. The Warriors went on an 18-0 run, swept the series and won the NBA Finals in five games.
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For now, the Spurs are coping without Leonard. There have been trials and tribulations, with a four-game winning streak to open the season, a four-game losing streak, and an ongoing three-game winning streak. The Silver and Black need their superstar and will get him back, at some point. The longer he sits out, the lower the odds get for a 2017-18 MVP win. Whenever the team gets him back, however, look out.