San Antonio Spurs News

San Antonio Spurs: David Robinson on Kawhi Leonard’s injury, returning

By Rob Wolkenbrod
SAN ANTONIO,TX - OCTOBER 18: Former Spurs David Robinson joins injured Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs during the national anthem before the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at AT&T Center on October 18, 2017 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO,TX - OCTOBER 18: Former Spurs David Robinson joins injured Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs during the national anthem before the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at AT&T Center on October 18, 2017 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
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San Antonio Spurs legend David Robinson spoke to FanSided’s On the Mark about Kawhi Leonard’s injury situation.

For all but nine games this season, the San Antonio Spurs played without Kawhi Leonard. That will continue Sunday, with a game against the Milwaukee Bucks. It stems back to a mysterious quad injury that occurred before the 2017 preseason. No one knows how or when it happened and the severity, making this one of the most interesting stories of the 2017-18 NBA season — not just for the Spurs.

The situation took another turn, with reports of a players-only meeting on Leonard’s status. The San Antonio Express-News countered the “emotional” and “tense” words ESPN used to describe the meeting. Either way, it took place to learn about the team’s star’s return timetable, rather than from the media.

The Leonard saga received input from Manu Ginobili and head coach Gregg Popovich, but a new opinion joined the fray. This time, Spurs legend David Robinson gave his thoughts to FanSided’s On the Mark about how the organization handled the injury and when the San Diego State product should return:

“I don’t think anyone knows that answer. When a guy has a physical ailment, the only person that knows that physical ailment is that person. The Spurs have done a good job giving him leeway to figure out how he feels. Whether he’s ready or not, we put a heavy load on his shoulders. You could watch him the last couple of years and see how much [the Spurs] rely on him. That’s a guy we need healthy and at 100 percent. We can’t put him out there at 50 percent. The key is him being healthy and feeling healthy. Those are the things we’re trying to figure out. Our doctors, it’s been widely reported they cleared him. The other part of it, is can you go out there night in and night out and sustain the mode it’s going to take.”

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Robinson pointed out, if Leonard returns now and would not be healthy, San Antonio cannot have that. That means a comeback when he’s at 100 percent, not one-quarter of halfway there, even if the season ends in three weeks and playoffs following afterward.

“The Admiral” knows these full-season injuries, too. He suffered back and foot ailments in the 1996-97 season that kept him out for all but six games. Unlike the 2017-18 Spurs, that team crashed to a 20-62 record, won the NBA Lottery and selected Tim Duncan at No. 1 overall. 2018 will not replicate that, but for a time, it seemed San Antonio would reach the lottery, when it sat at No. 10 in the Western Conference.

After Sunday’s game, the Spurs have just eight games to get Leonard back. The season ends on Apr. 11, so the timespan narrows by the day and as it does, it increases the chances that the LaMarcus Aldridge-led squad plays through and reaches the postseason, sans the former MVP candidate.

Next: Ranking remaining 2017-18 games on winnability

2018-19 might be the best time to get a 100-percent healthy Leonard. Let’s see if the Silver and Black opt for this direction. Do you think he will return before the season ends or during the playoffs?

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