The San Antonio Spurs will play without Kawhi Leonard in Portland on Sunday night but it won’t be for injury rest management.
The Spurs say that Kawhi suffered a partial shoulder tear and that he’s been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Trail Blazers.
But, according to an ESPN report, the team is saying that the injury isn’t severe. In fact, the team hasn’t even ruled Kawhi out for Thursday’s game in LA against the Lakers (the Spurs play a game in Sacramento on Monday, for which Kawhi has also been ruled out).
Kawhi missed the first 27 games of the season recovering from a thigh injury that occurred in the offseason and has had minutes restrictions placed on him since coming back on top of missing another five games as the team has managed his return to full playing time.
There’s no telling how much this shoulder injury is going to hold him back but it looks like the number of games that he’ll miss due to injury or rest this season could reach into the 40s, much higher than anyone would’ve thought before the season started.
It certainly makes the Spurs’ record all the more impressive having accomplished a 27-13 start mostly without their MVP-caliber star. Going into Sunday’s game against the Trail Blazers, the Silver and Black were only two losses behind the Houston Rockets in the standings and only five behind the NBA-best Golden State Warriors.