The San Antonio Spurs announced that forward Kawhi Leonard will be out indefinitely as he continues his rehabilitation process from right quadriceps tendinopathy.
"Kawhi has made significant progress and continues to move forward in his rehabilitation," General Manager RC Buford said in a statement released by the Spurs. "This is the best approach for the next steps in his return to play.”
Coach Gregg Popovich told Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News that the decision to shut down Leonard for the time being was one they hope will help Leonard in the long run:
"It hasn't responded the way we wanted it to," coach Gregg Popovich told the Express-News after the team's morning shootaround in Manhattan.
"He's given it a shot. He's frustrated as hell. He wants to play badly. But if we're going to err, we're going to do it on the side of health and being wise."
The decision to shut Leonard down was a collaborative one between the coaching staff, medical team, and rehabilitation staff, with input from Leonard himself.
"I'm probably more conservative than most," Popovich said, "but the trainers, the rehab people, the doctors, the coaches, we all talked about this for a long time."
"You try to react to how he feels after the games he's played in a little bit," Popovich said. "It just hasn't gone as well as we've wanted it to. So we're going to stop him for an indefinite period – I don't know how long that will be – to get more strength and hopefully get him back on the court."
The Spurs visit the Brooklyn Nets tonight (7:30 ET, NBA League Pass) and would have been decidedly shorthanded even if Leonard could suit up. Swingman Rudy Gay (right heel bursitis) is "still a couple weeks" from returning, the Express-News reports. Additionally, veteran Manu Ginobili will likely miss tonight's game and Friday's against the Toronto Raptors with a thigh contusion.
Leonard has been dogged by the right quadriceps tendinopathy since he first suffered his injury in Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors. He missed the Spurs' first 27 games of 2017-18 but returned on Dec. 12, logging 13 points in 16 minutes as the Spurs lost to the Dallas Mavericks.
He has not played more than two games in a row since then and last played for the Spurs on Jan. 13 in a blowout win against the Denver Nuggets. Leonard missed the Spurs' game against the Atlanta Hawks on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to "return from injury management". Overall, the Spurs went 5-4 in the games he played this season and will have to carry on for a while without their All-NBA and All-Star forward.