Kawhi says he's close to returning to Spurs lineup
SAN ANTONIO – Spurs All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard said the words that fans have been wanting to hear for months.
He'll back on the floor soon.
Speaking before Monday night's game against Detroit at the AT&T Center, Leonard said he is close to returning but doesn't have a target date.
"I feel good," Leonard said. "It's soon to come that I'll be able to play on the floor. I'm feeling pretty healthy right now."
Leonard said he's has been playing five-on-five in workouts, but still hasn't been cleared to play by doctors.
Kawhi Leonard told reporters before tonight’s game that he is close to returning to the court. He said he does not have a target date. @DavidFloresKENS— David Flores (@DavidFloresKENS) December 5, 2017
"That's where I'm at right now," Kawhi said, referring to playing five-on-five. "It's been good. Still, I've got to go through a few more processes and I should be back soon."
Leonard said he didn't think much about how long he would be out when he was shelved before training camp. "Just focused in on what I had to accomplish (in his rehab work), and that's it right now."
Leonard has been sidelined with tendinopathy in his right quadriceps since before the start of training camp and has not played in any regular season games so far.
Prior to Monday night's talk with reporters, Leonard had not spoken publicly since the team's media day in September.
The injury has lingered since last season, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said when the team announced Leonard would miss the preseason. But Leonard’s rehab went longer than expected, fueling speculation that the injury was more serious than initially thought.
Tendinopathy is a medical term used to describe inflammation and microtears of a tendon. Most tendon injuries are the result of gradual wear and tear to the tendon from overuse or aging, according to WebMD.com, and can cause pain, stiffness and loss of strength in the affected area.
The Spurs are 15-8 heading into Monday’s home game against the I-35 rival Dallas.
"I feel good," Kawhi said. "It's soon to come that I'll be able to play on the floor. I'm feeling pretty healthy right now." Leonard said he's has been playing five-on-five in workouts, but still hasn't been cleared to play by doctors. @DavidFloresKENS— David Flores (@DavidFloresKENS) December 5, 2017
Kyle Anderson started for Leonard in the team’s first 23 games, but he sustained a knee injury in Sunday night’s 90-87 road loss to Oklahoma City.
Leonard’s tentative return could come just weeks after Tony Parker, who ruptured the tendon in his left quadriceps during the playoffs last season, played in his first game of the season on Nov. 27. Parker has played in three games since his return. He had surgery two days after he sustained the injury in Game 4 of the Spurs’ series against Houston in the Western Conference semifinals.
Leonard, who is in his seventh season with San Antonio, averaged career-highs of 25.5 points and 3.5 assists last season. He added 5.8 rebounds in 33.4 minutes while shooting .485 (636-1,311) from the floor, .381 (147-386) from beyond the arc and a personal-best .880 (469-533) from the free throw line.
Leonard, 26, made the first team of the All-NBA squad for the third consecutive season.
Leonard has been named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 and 2015, and was a finalist for the award last season. He made the All-Defensive Second Team in 2013-14, and is the only Spur to ever win multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards.
A San Diego State product, Leonard played two seasons with the Warriors before turning pro. He was drafted by the Indiana Pacers with the 15th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, but subsequently traded to the Spurs for George Hill on draft night.