We noted earlier today that Leonard has remained in New York to continue his rehab in hopes of returning this season. However, it appears that after months of speculation, Leonard’s 2017/18 season is over and his future in San Antonio becomes the focal point.
The 26-year-old appeared in just nine games this season, averaging 16.2 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 2.3 APG in 23.3 minutes per contest. Leonard missed the first 27 games of the season, then appeared in nine midseason contests, suffering a partial tear in his left shoulder in early January. He has not played since January 13 as he rehabs his right quadriceps tendinopathy.
Without Leonard, the Spurs still made the postseason as the seventh seed with a 47-35 record. San Antonio suffered a 113-92 Game 1 defeat to the Warriors on Saturday and will have to battle Golden State without their two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Conspicuously, Leonard has been largely absent from the Spurs during his rehab. Just today, head coach Gregg Popovich said that Leonard would only return once his group of doctors and associates deem him ready.
“You’ll have to ask Kawhi and his group that question…so far they say he’s not ready to go. So we can’t do anything until that happens. Then we would have to decide what’s going on from there. But that’s the first thing that has to happen.” Popovich said.
It seemed that Leonard’s situation reached a boiling point in late March when a team meeting was held in which his teammates asked him about his status. While the meeting was not tense, according to several reports, Leonard’s teammates left without a clear indication of his situation.
Leonard can hit free agency next summer, where he will have no shortage of suitors. However, given his frustrating season in San Antonio, reports have suggested that teams will inquire about his availability in trades this offseason. Yesterday, the Clippers emerged as a potential trade partner for the Los Angeles native.
While there’s a chance Leonard will never play for the Spurs again, his extensive rehab suggests he wants to be healthy for his next NBA game — whenever and wherever that game takes place.