It is time to officially set off the warning alarm, there may be serious problems between the San Antonio Spurs and Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard has apparently been cleared for a return by team doctors for his right quad injury, but spent the All-Star break seeing a specialist and getting a second opinion and is choosing not to return to the floor yet.
Here is the latest from Adrian Wojnarowski:
“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.
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.”
I am sure Leonard is still dealing with some pain, but it feels more like this decision is motivated by him having some sort of mental block about the injury or being at odds with the Spurs organization.
We all remember the Derrick Rose saga in Chicago after suffering his first ACL injury as he was still resistant to suiting up once he was medically cleared because he didn’t feel ready and he never really got his edge back and has never come close to being the same player. I am not saying that is the case with Leonard, but there are similarities at least.
Part of the Spurs brand and success over the past few decades is their cautionary approach to player recovery and giving their stars enough rest and not rushing anyone back from an injury before they are ready, so to see them clear Leonard and him not agree feels like there is something more.
You can bet teams will be circling the Spurs like vultures in the summer of 2019 if the relationship between Leonard and the Spurs continues to perish.