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Reports: Kawhi Leonard returns to workout with San Antonio Spurs, targets March return

Last Wednesday, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was not optimistic about the return of star forward Kawhi Leonard.

Five days later according to multiple reports, the All-Star is reportedly working out with the team and target a return to game action in March. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Michael C. Wright say Leonard has returned to San Antonio to workout with the team.

Additionally, Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News reports similar news and, like ESPN reports, Leonard could be back come March:

The Spurs decided to sideline their franchise player again to rehab further from a right quadriceps tendinopathy injury which caused him to miss the first 27 games of the season.

League sources tell the Express-News that Leonard returned to San Antonio over the weekend and could start practicing with the team as early as Tuesday.

Before his latest absence — labeled a “regrouping” by a person close to the situation — Leonard initially made his season debut in December against the Dallas Mavericks. In the nine games played this season, Leonard averaged 16.2 points and 4.7 rebounds. He recorded a season-high 25 points in a win over the New York Knicks last month and the Spurs went 5-4 with Leonard in the lineup.

Wojnarowski previously reported Leonard has been medically cleared to return from his right quadriceps tendinopathy. Wojnarowski also reports the Spurs left it up to Leonard to decide when to return and he has chosen not to:

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the San Antonio Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said. If Leonard returns, it will be because he has decided he can manage the pain of the injury, according to the sources.

Away from the Spurs to pursue second opinions in New York, Leonard recently utilized the gymnasium inside the National Basketball Players Association headquarters in Manhattan for workouts, league sources told ESPN. The Spurs had team personnel accompanying Leonard in New York, sources said.

The injury, rehabilitation and timetable for a return has complicated the Spurs and Leonard’s relationship, causing tension and fraying the fabric of what was once a strong partnership, league sources told ESPN. The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future, which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

Leonard has not played since Jan. 13 and has appeared in just nine games this season.