The San Antonio Spurs do no know when Kawhi Leonard will be in their rotation again.
Quad and shoulder issues have limited to the two-time Defensive Player of the Year to just nine appearances this season, and it will apparently be quite some time before he gets a 10th outing under his belt. The Spurs announced on Wednesday that he would be sidelined indefinitely while tending once again to a right quad injury that requires further rehabilitation:
Kawhi Leonard Update: pic.twitter.com/2jb5svTAR2
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 17, 2018
This feels uncomfortable. The Spurs are hardly masters at tipping their injury timetables, but Leonard’s quad issues, by head coach Gregg Popovich’s own admission, have miffed them time and time again. They started the season thinking he would only miss a little bit of time. But that turned into the first 27 games of the year. And now, here we are, more than halfway through the season, with Leonard, by all appearances, set to miss at least the new few weeks, if not much more.
If I were a betting man, which from time to time I am, I’d wager on a more protracted absence. As The Ringer’s Justin Verrier pointed out, New Orleans Pelicans All-Star Anthony Davis dealt with a similar injury in the past, and it took him three to four months to recover.
The Spurs will be fine, because they’re the Spurs. They’ve pieced together a top-five record without him in the lineup for most of this season. They may limp into the playoffs, but they’ll do so with one of the Western Conference’s first four seeds.
As far as their championship hopes go, those seem dashed unless they make an uncharacteristic splash at the trade deadline. That was arguably always true, even with the guarantee of a healthy Leonard, but it’s more of a necessity now. Otherwise, if they elect to stand pat, they’re essentially conceding to the Warriors’ dominance and kicking the can into next year.