San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard was rumored to be set to make his comeback on Thursday, March 15, as his team faces the New Orleans Pelicans. However, that does not seem to be the case.
ESPN's Lisa Salters previously cited league sources who had confirmed Leonard's return, that is if no other issues arise caused by his recurring right quadriceps injury. The same report said Leonard has been riding a stationary bike during practice sessions. He also joined 3-on-3 games but only with Spurs staff members and not actual players of the team.
However, a recent report from Yahoo Sports' Shams Charania said that Leonard would still not be able to participate in the upcoming game against the Pelicans.
Leonard has been battling with the injury even before the NBA's 2017-18 season started. It has also restricted the player to joining just nine games since the season started.
In all those games, however, Leonard did not disappoint and has now posted a season average of 16.2 points, 2.3 assists, and 4.7 rebounds per game.
The two-time Most Defensive Player is naturally hoping to join the hard court action "soon" but emphasized to the media in San Antonio about "taking the right steps" in his rehabilitation and return to avoid "aggravate things."
On the other hand, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich seemed dismissive of Leonard's rumored return. Reacting on ESPN's report, Popovich told Jeff McDonald of San Antonio Express-News: "Well good for them. I'm glad they're reporting that. I don't know what they reported. I don't hear. I don't worry about reports."
Fans should note though that teams and head coaches typically do not give specific updates on an injured player's return. But, it can also be recalled that Popovich and Leonard seem to have different perspective when it comes to the latter's return.
According to previous reports, Leonard has already acquired the medical clearance to play but opted to stay in the sideline until he was confident that he would not hurt himself again.
On the other hand, Popovich previously said: "We only have x number of games left in the season and he's still not ready to go and if by some chance he is, it's going to be pretty late into the season and it's going to be a tough decision."