Numerous San Antonio Spurs players were reporting Tuesday that Kawhi Leonard had returned to the Spurs practice facility as the team prepares for Wednesday’s matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans, the team's first game back home after the Rodeo Road Trip
Although head coach Gregg Popovich remained silent on the news, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green both claimed to have witnessed the return of The Klaw.
The news lines up with an earlier report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that Leonard was anticipated to return in March. It stands contradictory to a statement made by Coach Pop last week that he would be "surprised" if the small forward was able to return during the 2017-2018 season.
Kawhi Leonard has only played in nine games this season as he’s been recovering from a quad injury that’s ailed him since the offseason.
Leonard ended last season on the bench when Zaza Pachulia undercut him during the second half of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. While no direct connection has been made from the incident in Golden State to his current quad problems, the consensus among former players has been “it’s all connected.”
If Kawhi were to return by the end of March, it would leave little time for the Spurs to work Kawhi back into the line-up on a full-time basis before the playoffs. The Spurs only play six games in April before the start of the postseason.
There’s also no telling where the Spurs will end up in the postseason as there’s a slight chance that San Antonio could miss out on the playoffs entirely. While the Spurs have the third-fewest losses in the Western Conference with 25, there are six teams bunched together with 26 or 27 losses, which means that one of those teams will miss the playoffs.
The Spurs also have one of the toughest remaining schedules in the NBA. Of the Silver & Black’s 21 remaining games, 16 of their opponents have winning records. PlayoffStatus.com ranks the Spurs as having the toughest remaining schedule in the West.