SAN ANTONIO - Don't expect to see Spurs All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard racing up the court and throwing down dunks anytime soon.
Leonard has been sidelined with tendinopathy in his right quadriceps since the beginning of training camp. While he is progressing in his rehab work, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Tuesday that Kawhi is recovering slower than veteran guard Tony Parker.
Parker had surgery in May after rupturing a tendon in his left quadriceps in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals.
"He's just coming around more slowly, for whatever reason," Pop said of Leonard. "It's just been more difficult for him to get through the rehab routine, so his body hasn't reacted the same way [as Parker's]. Tony's at the point where he's been going five-on-five, that kind of thing.
"[Parker's] not totally confident. It'll be a few more weeks. He's definitely going in the right direction, and so is Kawhi. It's just taken a little bit longer."
Popovich has given no timetable for Leonard's return. Parker has told reporters he was optimistic about joining the team as early as mid-November but acknowledged that the decision would rest with "Dr. Popovich."
The media has seen Parker working on his jump shot after Spurs workouts but there's been no sighting of Leonard.
Popovich talked to reporters about Parker and Leonard's injuries before the Spurs' game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night at the AT&T Center.
Leonard's injury has lingered since last season, Popovich said in the preseason, but added that it was not related to the ankle injury that knocked him out of the 2017 playoffs.
Leonard will have to follow the same protocol that Parker has gone through after he's strong enough to get back on the court, Popovich said.
"I wouldn't want him to go right from rehab to jumping on the court," Popovich said. "He's got to go three-on-three and five-on-five, feel comfortable. In the end, that confidence is what's going [to be important]. Anybody who's been out for any length of time has to get that back, even if the doctors say, 'Yep, you're ready to go.' You're really not until you're mentally ready to go."
The Spurs have gone 6-4 playing without Leonard and Parker. They started the season 4-0 before losing four in a row. The Silver and Black beat Charlotte on Friday night to avoid their first 4-5 start since the 2009-10 season.
"Kawhi is our best defender and our best scorer," Popovich said. "Tony is our best pick-and-roll player and our leader. But everybody gets injuries. You look at whatever you can. Other guys are getting time and getting to play and got to figure things out a little quicker than maybe than they would have planned or I would have planned. Just go with that. It's basketball."
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