Kawhi Leonard being held out of the San Antonio Spurs' upcoming game against the Golden State Warriors just reeks of a Gregg Popovich move putting the team ahead of NBA ratings, doesn't it?
Well, it's not the case.
As much as Pop has a reputation for pulling such a move, it's actually the NBA holding Kawhi out of the game.
During Thursday night's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kawhi Leonard suffered a head injury in the 3rd quarter. As the second game of a back-to-back, it seemed unlikely that Pop would put Leonard back in the game regardless of the score.
You can watch the play here:
As Victor Oladipo hurls toward the basket, he whacks Leonard with his forearm as he comes down after a foul was called.
The ultimate insult for the Spurs is that the play should've never happened. On that particular play, the shot clock to about four second to start. Had the referees noticed, as Gregg Popovich was barking on the sideline that the clock hadn't started, The Thunder would've either taken a poorer shot earlier in the clock or turned the ball over without Leonard getting injured.
No word yet on how much more time Leonard could potentially miss. Leonard has to clear several hurdles including being cleared by a team physician before he could return to action.
Given the Spurs' history of being extra cautious when it comes to injury, it's quite possible that the Spurs could hold Leonard out for rest even after he's been cleared.
Luckily, the Spurs' next three games are at home: Saturday against the Warriors, Monday against the Hawks, and Wednesday against the Trail Blazers.
Warriors All-Star Kevin Durant will also miss the game as he recovers from an injury.