The Kawhi Leonard saga this season has been riddled with uncertainty and quiet drama within the San Antonio Spurs organization. While the LaMarcus Aldridge problem was a small speedbump in the Spurs dynasty, the issues surrounding Leonard’s injury and reluctance to play along with the ‘Spurs way’ might put an end to their run of success.
San Antonio has somehow survived this season with Leonard only playing nine games but they’ve also had their fair share of scares in the Western Conference standings. They hit 10th in the west last week and it caused many to wonder if the Spurs would miss the playoffs for the first time in over two decades. A recent five game winning streak, including victories over playoff-bound teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Golden State Warriors and Washington Wizards, now places San Antonio sixth in the conference.
But with the playoffs on the horizon and the potential for a matchup against top teams like the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors in the first round, the Spurs started to openly wonder when their star would return. Manu Ginobili has already gone on record to say he doesn’t think Leonard would return this season. The Spurs reportedly held a players-only meeting where they questioned Kawhi Leonard on when he would come back to the lineup.
The San Antonio Spurs held a players-only meeting to implore All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard to return to the lineup and help the team in its push for the playoffs, league sources told ESPN.
Spurs guard Tony Parker, a four-time NBA champion, quarterbacked the meeting with his teammates and Leonard after Saturday night’s victory over Minnesota, league sources said.
The conversation was described as tense and emotional at times, league sources said.
Several teammates spoke up, expressing frustration and confusion over a growing divide with Leonard that has created significant tension between the franchise star and the Spurs, league sources said.
Leonard, 26, was resolute in response, insisting that he had good reason for sitting out all but nine games with a right quad injury this season, league sources said.
Leonard has impressed his coaches and teammates in 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 workouts, and there had been a belief his rehabilitation was cycling toward a return to the floor in the past week, league sources said.
Leonard has targeted games in the recent week, only to decide that he wasn’t feeling confident in the injury to return, league sources said.