And now for another Kawhi Leonard injury saga update.
The two-time Defensive Player of the Year has appeared in only nine games this season while dealing with a quad issue. Though it was first thought he was cleared to return, his status isn’t, as it turns out, so cut and dry. And while he was expected to return last week against the New Orleans Pelicans, his comeback party has since been postponed.
To listen to Manu Ginobili tell it, this is all she wrote for Leonard. The San Antonio Spurs, according to him, do not expect their All-Star wing back this season (via ESPN.com’s Michael C. Wright):
Leonard showed up at the AT&T Center for the team’s annual picture but wasn’t present minutes later when the Spurs took part in their shootaround before Wednesday night’s 98-90 win over the Washington Wizards.
“He is not coming back. For me, he’s not coming back because it’s not helping [to think Leonard is returning]. We fell for it a week ago again. I guess you guys made us fall for it. But we have to think that he’s not coming back; that we are who we are, and that we got to fight without him. That shouldn’t be changing, at least until he is ready for the jungle.”
This isn’t just a smart line of linking from Manu and the Spurs. It’s the only line of thinking. They have 10 games left on their schedule, and Leonard’s return has been postponed or nixed in some form on seemingly countless occasions. They cannot bank on him coming back to save the day when there’s not even enough season left to let him work through the rust that comes with missing months at a time.
Unfortunately for the Spurs, losing Leonard for the season effectively ends their hopes of factoring into the championship conversation. Fortunately for them, their playoff streak is still expected to live on. FiveThirtyEight gives them a 92 percent chance to make the postseason following their latest five-game winning streak.