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In plain phrases, the San Antonio Spurs aren’t near the identical group with out Kawhi Leonard that they when the All-NBA ahead is at full power. San Antonio’s early-season efficiency in Leonard’s absence was each spectacular and admirable however, in latest weeks, the group’s effectiveness has dwindled to the purpose the place the Spurs are in precise hazard of lacking the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

Nonetheless, there was a ray of sunshine in that Leonard was projected to return to motion on Thursday in opposition to the New Orleans Pelicans. Sadly, although, that hope evaporated on Tuesday with phrase that Leonard was not, in truth, able to play simply but and, with that because the backdrop, head coach Gregg Popovich shed further mild later within the day on his star’s standing.

“Like anyone else, he’s pissed off,” Popovich instructed Michael C. Wright of ESPN. “He needs to be taking part in. He’s aggressive. It’s been a troublesome 12 months for him in that regard. However step one is he’s obtained to be cleared by his medical workers that he’s seeing. And till he will get cleared, we are able to’t decide on when he’s coming again. So as soon as he will get cleared, then he and I can sit down and discuss, and see what we take into consideration an acceptable time to return again. However that clearance must be obtained first. Nothing overrides the medical workers. That’s a negotiation between the participant and the coach to determine what’s greatest.”

Past the easy notion that Leonard have to be medically cleared to return, Popovich additionally evoked a reference to San Antonio’s legendarily cautious method to participant accidents.

“(Leonard) is aware of very nicely our historical past is fairly documented,” Popovich instructed ESPN. “If we’re going to err, we’re going to err on the conservative facet as a result of his profession goes to be of paramount significance to us. It’s not the sport or the playoffs or this or that. It’s the identical like with Tim [Duncan]. He damage a knee one 12 months, and we didn’t let him go within the playoffs. I don’t know that that may very well be this case. We don’t know. However his profession can be paramount in our considering as we decide.”

This, in fact, doesn’t present a complete lot of consolation for the present scenario of the Spurs, who desperately must compile victories so as to preserve their playoff streak in tact. Nonetheless, it’s a reminder that there are concerns nicely past this explicit marketing campaign and that’s doubly true with Leonard given the truth that San Antonio can supply their centerpiece a max contract extension as quickly as this summer season.

It’s undoubtedly unusual that Leonard’s medical hopes seemingly relaxation on medical personnel circuitously employed by the Spurs however, within the midst of what has been a weird scenario for some time, Popovich appears to have a stage head about his greatest participant’s standing and that ought to trickle down by way of the group. Having an impartial medical workers clear Leonard will guarantee his greatest pursuits stay on the coronary heart of this saga, however it does go away everybody concerned in a little bit of limbo concerning his return.

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