Worry not, San Antonio Spurs fans: Despite rumors of conflict and confusion and potential all-out discord, Kawhi Leonard doesn’t appear to have any intention of plotting an escape.
The two-time Defensive Player of the Year, who has appeared in just nine game this season while dealing with a right quad injury, addressed the media for the first time in quite a while. Though he was brief in his responses, like usual, Leonard did not evade any line of questioning. This includes answering a query about whether he still wants to finish his career with the Spurs, per ESPN.com’s Michael C. Wright:
Leonard’s injury, rehabilitation and timetable for a return has played a significant role in complicating his relationship with the team, league sources told ESPN, leading to speculation about his desire to remain in San Antonio.
Asked directly whether he wanted to finish his career with the Spurs, Leonard said: “Yes, for sure.”
Leonard, by the way, made it clear he hopes to play again “soon”—so, more good news. Like, on-Thursday-against-the-Pelicans soon:
ESPN's Lisa Salters is reporting that San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard could return as early as Thursday's game against New Orleans. League sources tell me that barring a setback, Thursday vs. Pels is indeed the targeted return of Leonard to the lineup.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 11, 2018
His comments about his future come as a gigantic relief to anyone who’s wondering if he could actually leave San Antonio. While he’s eligible to sign a designated player extension this summer, there’s no guarantee the Spurs invest five years and $200-plus million in him if he doesn’t play before year’s end.
From there, he holds a player option for 2019-20. If he enters next season without a contract in place, or if rumors still paint a tense picture between him and the organization, it will make for a year’s worth of distractions the Spurs have long prided themselves on avoiding.