Report: Kawhi Leonard choosing to sit out despite being medically cleared
Leonard's relationship with Spurs also reportedly strained because of how injury has been handled
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, whether or not Leonard plays again is entirely up to him. From ESPN:
After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he's prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.
Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.
Away from the Spurs to pursue second opinions in New York, Leonard recently utilized the gymnasium inside the National Basketball Players Association headquarters in Manhattan for workouts, league sources told ESPN. The Spurs had team personnel accompanying Leonard in New York, sources said.
This is an interesting twist to the story since most generally assume that a player is ready to get back out on the court as soon as physically possible. The fact that Leonard is delaying his return suggests that the quad still isn't quite right, and a possible concern that coming back could cause long-term issues that could affect his potential Hall-of-Fame career.
Wojnarowski also reiterated an earlier report that the injury, rehab and timetable have caused a strained relationship between Leonard and the Spurs organization.
The injury, rehabilitation and timetable for a return has complicated the Spurs and Leonard's relationship, causing tension and fraying the fabric of what was once a strong partnership, league sources told ESPN. The uncertainty surrounding this season -- and Leonard's future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 -- has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.
Leonard has missed all but nine games this season due to a lingering right quad injury he suffered last season, and he was listed as out "indefinitely" by the team in mid-January as he continues to recover.
Leonard finished second in MVP voting after the 2015-16 season and finished third last season after averaging a career-high 25.5 points per game. Despite Leonard's injury, the Spurs have put together a 35-24 record this season, good for third place in the Western Conference playoff standings.
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