- The San Antonio Spurs and Kawhi Leonard have grown “disconnected,” according to an ESPN report.
- Leonard has battled a quadriceps injury this season, playing only nine games after he missed the first 27 regular season games and all of preseason.
- Last week, the Spurs announced they were shutting Leonard down indefinitely to rehab his quadriceps.
- The ESPN report said the Spurs-Leonard relationship is in need of repair.
The relationship between the San Antonio Spurs and star forward Kawhi Leonard has been growing divided, according to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Michael C. Wright.
According to ESPN, Leonard and his camp have been “disconnected” and “distant” from the Spurs as Leonard battles a lingering and puzzling quadriceps injury.
Last week, the Spurs announced they were shutting down Leonard indefinitely to battle tendinopathy in his right quadriceps. Leonard missed all of preseason and the first 27 games of the season with the issue, and only played nine games upon returning, missing games in between, before the Spurs’ decision to shut him down again.
Spurs GM R.C. Buford denied any rift in the organization over Leonard’s injury.
“There is no issue between the Spurs organization and Kawhi. From Day 1 all parties have worked together to find the best solutions to his injury,” Buford said to ESPN. He added: “This has been difficult for everyone.”
According to ESPN, Leonard told the Spurs that he was uncomfortable with his ability to play before the Spurs shut him down. It’s unclear from the report what, exactly, has caused the divide.
In November, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said he had “never” seen an injury issue like Leonard’s.
The Spurs have chugged along well without Leonard, as they sit third in the Western Conference at 30-18. Popovich was open with reporters before the Spurs faced the Brooklyn Nets on January 17 about wanting to make sure Leonard is healthy for the postseason.
Yet the report of discord is still an unusual one for what’s been the NBA’s steadiest organization over the past two decades. Wojnarowski and Wright did not report that the Spurs or Leonard are seeking to part ways, but said the relationship is in need of repair.
There’s no timetable for Leonard’s return, but the situation will obviously be one to watch as the NBA season cruises along.