Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs unsure when Kawhi Leonard will be cleared to play

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Kawhi Leonard is continuing his injury rehabilitation in New York with his own team of doctors, but is unsure when the star forward and “his group” will clear him to play.

“I don’t know when he’s going to feel, he and his group are going to feel like they’re ready to go,” Popovich said Sunday prior to a game against Houston. “If I knew, he’d be here. When he and his group feel he’s ready, he’ll be ready.”

Leonard has missed all but nine games this season while nursing right quadriceps tendinopathy, an injury that flared up late in the offseason. He returned to the team’s lineup briefly but has not played since complaining of soreness in his injured thigh following the Spurs’ home win over Denver on Jan. 13.

Leonard opted to go to New York this week to work with his own team of doctors for the second time this season after first working with them prior to the All-Star break in February. The Spurs’ medical staff has been present for both of Leonard’s extended stays in New York to stay updated on his progress.

The 6-foot-7 forward has worked out at the NBA Players Association facility in Manhattan during both of his stays in New York.

Leonard is still hoping to return to the Spurs during the regular season, although they only have five games remaining following Sunday’s matchup.

“He’s trying to get well,” Popovich said. “Of course that’s the purpose (of his stay in New York), to get well, that’s what he’s doing. That’s what rehab is. He’s up there going to Broadway shows and everything?”

The Spurs are competing for home-court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs despite being a rash of injuries to Tony Parker, Manu Ginboli, Rudy Gay, Danny Green and Kyle Anderson as well as Leonard.

Led by LaMarcus Aldridge’s best season with the team, San Antonio is currently fourth in the tightly packed Western Conference. The Spurs are a half game ahead of Minnesota and Oklahoma City and one game ahead of Utah and New Orleans for the final five playoff berths in the West.