Manu Ginobili was candid on the possibility Kawhi Leonard returns to the San Antonio Spurs this season.
San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard arguably became the mystery of the 2017-18 NBA season. It started with a mysterious quad injury before the preseason, only to follow with reports and rumors of tension with the organization, on how to conduct his rehab. He was expected to return in March after playing in just nine games this season, but as the month winds down it does not seem likely.
After Wednesday’s win vs. the Washington Wizards, the Spurs have just 10 games left before the playoffs, if they make it. That’s little time for Leonard to return, which could mean fans do not see him until the 2018-19 season.
Manu Ginobili is one player under this assumption. He spoke candidly to ESPN’s Michael C. Wright and other reporters before Wednesday’s game and said, “For me, [Leonard is] not coming back…” Part of the blame was put on the reports he would return vs. the New Orleans Pelicans last Thursday.
“He is not coming back,” veteran guard Manu Ginobili said. “For me, he’s not coming back because it’s not helping [to think Leonard is returning]. We fell for it a week ago again. I guess you guys made us fall for it. But we have to think that he’s not coming back, that we are who we are, and that we got to fight without him. That shouldn’t be changing, at least until he is ready for the jump ball.”
It’s the right mindset from Ginobili, who will play like the Spurs have for all but nine games this season. They sit at 42-30 and in the thick of the playoff hunt, so a distraction of “will he or won’t he” can only get in the way of their pursuit, at least off the court.
Of course, if Leonard returns, that’s a different story. It simmers the off-court reports of a comeback and stalls the focus until the offseason, as the “Klaw” will be up for a contract extension worth over $200 million. Will the Spurs give it to him?
There’s time for Leonard to come back, but it’s winding down. The Spurs team fans have watched for the majority of the season might be the same in the postseason.