According to a report from ESPN, the San Antonio Spurs and Kawhi Leonard have a broken relationship over his injury rehab.
For most of the 2017-18 season, the San Antonio Spurs have played without Kawhi Leonard. Whether it was due to a strained left shoulder or a quad injury, the Spurs had to roll out LaMarcus Aldridge-led lineups, including Kyle Anderson’s as Leonard’s replacement. This remains the case, as the Silver and Black recently shut down their star player to rest his quad.
Through both of Leonard’s injuries, the Spurs cautiously brought him back. That included not playing him on back-to-back nights and giving him at least two days off between games.
However, according to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Michael C. Wright, the way Leonard’s rehab has been handled created friction between the player and organization. The “Klaw” is “disconnected” and “distant” from the Spurs, with work needed to repair the relationship between the two sides.
Spurs General Manager RC Buford refuted these claims. In the same ESPN piece, he said:
“There is no issue between the Spurs organization and Kawhi,” Buford said. “From Day 1 all parties have worked together to find the best solutions to his injury.”
Buford also called it “difficult for everyone,” and said the rehab “has not been simple.”
A tense relationship between a star player and coach is a dangerous path to cross, especially with the abundance of elite-level transactions over the past few years. Players like Chris Paul, LeBron James, Paul George, Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins, all for varying reasons, switched teams and shook up their respective organizations. Obviously, looking that far ahead in Leonard’s situation would be a stretch, but there’s an increasingly troublesome history of star player-organization relationships.
Disagreements aren’t the norm for the Spurs, either. Although, head coach Gregg Popovich had to work it out with Aldridge before the 2017-18 season started.
Well, there’s suddenly drama in the Alamo City.