Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard Out Indefinitely

Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard will be sidelined for an “indefinite period of time,” the club announced today (Twitter link). According to the team’s announcement, Leonard is still battling right quadriceps tendinopathy and will focus on rehabbing that injury.

In a statement, Spurs GM R.C. Buford said that Leonard “continues to move forward in his rehabilitation.” Meanwhile, head coach Gregg Popovich tells Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News that the injury “hasn’t responded the way we wanted it to.”

“He’s given it a shot,” Popovich said of his star player. “He’s frustrated as hell. He wants to play badly. But if we’re going to err, we’re going to do it on the side of health and being wise.”

After sitting out for nearly two months to start the season due to his quad injury, Leonard returned to action on December 12. He has missed several games since then though, never playing with less than two days rest. Even when he has been on the floor, the 26-year-old hasn’t been his usual dominant self — his .468 FG% and .314 3PT% are career lows, albeit in a small sample (nine games).

With Leonard out, Kyle Anderson will continue to see the majority of the minutes at the three for San Antonio. Rudy Gay will also help fortify the Spurs’ forward rotation once he gets healthy, while Danny Green and Manu Ginobili could also play small forward in certain lineups. However, according to McDonald, Gay is still a couple weeks away from returning and Ginobili is expected to miss the Spurs’ next two games with a thigh contusion.

Southwest Notes: Leonard, Weber, Green

While it seems Kawhi Leonard may have partially torn his shoulder, the Spurs don’t seem particularly concerned about the injury. Immediately after mentioning the tear to Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News, head coach Gregg Popovich said that the forward could potentially return before the end of the team’s three-game road trip.

According to ESPN’s Michael Wright, Leonard has not even been formally ruled out for Thursday’s game.

Sidelined until mid-December with a quad injury, Leonard will now miss time just as he began to see an increased work load. Since the Spurs’ Boxing Day contest, Leonard had played four of five games, averaging 28.2 minutes and 21.3 points per game.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavs are one team that could potentially benefit from “competitively tanking” but doing so may be easier said than done, Matt Mosley of the Dallas Morning News implies. The scribe says that Rick Carlisle isn’t a great coach for tanking and adds that Dennis Smith Jr. may have other plans following a losing year at N.C. State.
  • The Rockets may have a looming decision to make with regard to Briante Weber, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. Because of the 45-day limit on his two-way contract Houston may need to convert his deal into a standard one if they plan to keep featuring him while James Harden recovers from an injury.
  • Houston native and recent Rockets addition Gerald Green has made an impact in his brief time with the franchise, averaging 19.8 points per game off the bench in his last five games. As Tim MacMahon of ESPN writes there wasn’t much of a market for his services prior to his signing. “No team wanted me, man. No team wanted me. No team wanted me,” Green said. “No overseas team. Not even a D-League team. So this is the only team that took a chance on me. For me, I’m just so overwhelmed and excited about the opportunity.

Southwest Notes: Capela, Leonard, Weber, Simmons

Rockets center Clint Capela has a right orbital fracture and will miss at least the next two games, the team tweets. Capela will be re-evaulated later this week, the tweet adds. Capela suffered the injury during the third quarter of the Rockets’ loss to the Thunder on Christmas Day. He had missed three of the previous four games with a heel injury. Capela, who is averaging 14.2 PPG and 11.2 RPG, will miss Thursday’s matchup against the Celtics and Friday’s game against the Wizards.

In other developments around the Southwest Division:

  • Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard admits he’s still not 100% as he works his way back from a quad injury but the team appears ready to go on a run, according to Michael C. Wright of ESPN. Leonard played 26 minutes in San Antonio’s victory over the Nets on Tuesday. “I don’t feel like I’m there yet,” Leonard told Wright and other reporters. “But I tried to do what I can. It’s really nothing tonight. Just the whole process of going through playing limited minutes, and just seeing how I feel each game.” With Leonard and Tony Parker back from long-term injuries, the Spurs finally have their full roster together. “It’s a good time to get everybody playing, everybody feeling good, get Kawhi and Tony back to their usual selves, back to their rhythm and feeling good,” guard Manu Ginobili told Wright.
  • Briante Weber has played meaningful minutes as a backup point guard with Rockets starter Chris Paul on the mend, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle relays. Paul could return as early as Thursday from an adductor strain. Weber, who is on a two-way contract, played a total of 34 minutes over the last two games, though he only contributed two points and three assists. “It’s a learning process, just trying to figure out what to do to play my game and not take away from what the team has,” Weber told Feigen.
  • Rookie guard Kobi Simmons, another player on a two-way deal, has given the Grizzlies a boost of energy, Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal notes. Simmons has played a total of 51 minutes over the last two games, supplying 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists. “He brings a spark,” interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff told Tillery. “He’s got a natural talent that we’ve got to do a great job of developing. He can help us.”

Kawhi Leonard Set To Return For Spurs

DECEMBER 12, 11:56am: Leonard will play on Tuesday night, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich confirmed today (Twitter link via Michael C. Wright of ESPN). The star forward will be on a minutes restriction.

DECEMBER 8, 2:29pm: Leonard is now targeting Tuesday’s game in Dallas for his return, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski and Michael Wright of ESPN (Twitter link). The Spurs don’t play on Sunday or Monday, so delaying his debut until next week would give Leonard a few extra recovery days without missing multiple games.

DECEMBER 7, 2:43pm: The Spurs could welcome Kawhi Leonard back to the lineup as soon as this Saturday, Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News writes. The forward has been held out of action with a quad injury since late September.

While Leonard seems optimistic about his imminent return, the team will have a better idea of his status after they re-evaluate him on Friday. Leonard, Young writes, participated in a final workout session with the team today.

Leonard has missed all 25 games for the Spurs this season while recovering from right quadriceps tendinopathy but has slowly ramped up his activity in practice over the last few weeks.

Just last season, the 26-year-old took his game to a new level, averaging 25.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game while guiding the Spurs to the Western Conference Finals. The well-rested 2016-17 MVP finalist will look to pick up exactly where he left off.

He looked great [in practice],” Tony Parker, who just returned from his own quad injury, told reporters. “I almost forgot he was that good.

Soon enough we’ll all remember.

Western Notes: Leonard, Hood, Bender, Bjelica

Kawhi Leonard‘s long-awaited season debut will likely take place on Tuesday. The Spurs All-Star forward is listed as probable for Tuesday’s road game against Dallas, ESPN’s Michael C. Wright relays. Leonard has endured a longer-than-expected recovery period from right quadriceps tendinopathy. He averaged a career-high 25.5 PPG last season and led his club to the Western Conference finals.

In other developments around the Western Conference:

  • Jazz shooting guard Rodney Hood hopes to return to action Wednesday, Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets. Hood, averaging a career-best 17.7 PPG, has been sidelined seven games with a left ankle injury.
  • Suns second-year power forward Dragan Bender will have to earn his way back into the regular rotation, as Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic reports. Bender has totaled just 12 points and 11 rebounds over the last seven games while shooting 20% from the field, as his playing time has diminished. “I don’t think competition is bad especially when you’re a young player and you’re not guaranteed minutes,” coach Jay Triano said of the lottery pick. “He has to play better. … If you want to say Dragan is not playing well enough to be on the court right now, that’s fine. I want it to be competition.”
  • Timberwolves power forward Nemanja Bjelica has missed the last nine games with a foot injury and it’s still uncertain when he’ll return. Coach Tom Thibodeau provided an update on his status to Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Jerry Zgoda (Twitter link) and other media members.  “We don’t want to put a timetable on it,” Thibodeau said. “We thought it would be sooner, but when he’s healthy, he’s healthy. We don’t want to go back and forth with it. He has ramped it up conditioning-wise, so that’s a good sign.”

Injury Updates: Leonard, Hardaway, Gallinari, Curry

Spurs All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard said he’ll return soon from the quadriceps injury that has kept him out all season but he still has a few more steps in his rehabilitation process, according to an Associated Press report. Leonard has been practicing but still doesn’t have a target date, the AP report adds. “I feel good, soon to come [and] be able to play on the floor,” Leonard said to reporters on Monday. “It’s been a long wait, but I’m feeling pretty healthy right now.”

In other injury-related news around the league:

  • Knicks shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. could miss multiple games with a stress injury to his lower leg, Al Iannazzone of Newsday reports. Coach Jeff Hornacek hinted to the assembled media that Hardaway could be out for awhile. “There’s concern with anybody when it’s an injury that might be longer than a game or two,” he said.
  • Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari is hopeful of returning this week from a strained left glute, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times relays. Gallinari hasn’t played since November 5th. He was acquired in a three-way deal in July.
  • Pistons power forward Jon Leuer had a joint lubrication injection to help heal his injured left ankle, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. Leuer, who has already missed 15 games, won’t even be reevaluated for another two weeks. “Two to four weeks after the injection is when they would start to ramp him back up, so you’d have some time after that, too,” coach Stan Van Gundy told Beard and other media members. “You’re looking 3-5 or 4-6 [weeks] or something like that.”
  • Pelicans star forward Anthony Davis is relieved that his left adductor injury is nothing more than a strain, William Guillory of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Davis felt a sharp pain when suffering the injury last week but is listed as day-to-day. “I‘m getting better every day, I’m not quite there yet,” Davis told Guillory. “But I’ve been getting better for the most part. … On certain movements, the main ones are fine, but a lot of cutting and stuff like that are where the pain comes up.”
  • Warriors guard Stephen Curry sprained his right ankle on Monday but X-rays were negative, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post tweets. He’ll have an MRI on Tuesday, Sam Amick of USA Today tweets.

Southwest Notes: Leonard, Davis, Mavericks, Grizzlies

Kawhi Leonard has yet to suit up for the Spurs this season as he’s battled a quadriceps injury but he is close to making his season debut. Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News writes that head coach Gregg Popovich sees Leonard rehab in its “last steps.”

Leonard played two sessions of five-on-five before San Antonio’s game against the Grizzlies on Friday. Tony Parker, who recently returned from injury, underwent the same process before completing his rehab. While Popovich gets the okay from Leonard, he sees the team’s All-Star small forward back in the lineup.

“When he says, ‘I feel I can go,’ then he’s got to convince me,” Popovich said. “Because I’m going to err on the conservative side. We’ll see. He’s too valuable to bring back early.”

Leonard, 26, finished third in NBA Most Valuable Player voting last season as he averaged 25.6 PPG and 5.8 RPG while also frustrating opposition on defense. Despite Leonard’s absence, the Spurs have still played well, currently occupying the third seed in the Western Conference with a 15-7 record.

Check out other news from the Southwest Division below:

  • Pelicans‘ star Anthony Davis received a $25,000 fine along with his ejection for not leaving the court in a timely manner during Wednesday loss to the Timberwolves, the NBA announced.
  • Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News examined the Mavericks’ possibilities at the center. Of the team’s possible choices, Sefko discussed trading for Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, utilizing in-house options such as Nerlens Noel more frequently, or waiting until 2018 and using the draft to upgrade at the position.
  • After David Fizdale’s firing, the Grizzlies are in a weird position where the team is not out of contention but a lot of controversy surrounds the current core. Chris Herrington of the Commercial Appeal examined the team’s three choices moving forward: blowing up the current roster and starting over, trying to play through the tough times and ride it out, or make certain changes without going into full rebuild mode.

Western Notes: Len, Gobert, Leonard, Rockets

Alex Len has become the odd man out in the Suns’ center rotation and he cannot hide his displeasure, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic reports. Len signed a one-year, $4.2MM qualifying offer with Phoenix after failing to receive an offer sheet that he found acceptable as a restricted free agent over the summer. Len has not played in two of the three last games, as interim coach Jay Triano has decided to ride veterans Tyson Chandler and recently-acquired Greg Monroe“I put in the work hoping to show my skills on the court,” Len told Bordow. “So when you’re not able to help your team, it’s frustrating.” Len’s lack of playing time won’t help his cause when he enters the market again next summer, this time as an unrestricted free agent.

In other news around the Western Conference:

  • Jazz center Rudy Gobert is participating in on-court individual drills at practice, Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News tweets. This could be a sign that Gobert, who is recovering from a right knee injury, will return to action sooner than the four- to six-week timetable given on November 12th. Gobert injured the knee in a collision with Heat guard Dion Waiters.
  • Spurs All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard is making significant progress from the right quadriceps tendinopathy that has kept him out of action all season, coach Gregg Popovich told Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News and other media members. Popovich, who jokingly scoffed at “Doctor” Tony Parker‘s estimation that Leonard could return in two or three weeks, said Leonard would soon participate in 5-on-5 practice drills. “He’s getting very close and making progress,” Popovich said. “He’s having contact now and hopefully we will get him back shortly.”
  • The Rockets are not experiencing chemistry issues because the veterans they acquired know how to blend in, according to Hunter Atkins of The Houston Chronicle. Chris Paul, P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute know what it takes to work well with others and it shows now that the team is playing at full strength, Atkins adds.

Parker: Kawhi Leonard Could Return In 2-3 Weeks

Veteran point guard Tony Parker is set to return to action on Monday night for the Spurs, but the team is still without its MVP, Kawhi Leonard, who continues to recover from quadriceps tendinopathy. As Michael C. Wright of ESPN relays, Parker worked out with Leonard during his own rehab process, and estimates that his teammate will return in two or three weeks.

“He looked great,” Parker said of Leonard. “I was like, ‘Oh, he’s good. I forgot that he was that good.’ Yeah, [he’s] close. It’s still going to be a process. Still, the Spurs aren’t going to take [any] risks. It’s still going to be, like I said, a couple of weeks, three weeks. They’re not going to take any risks. But he’s looking good so far.”

As Parker himself notes, the Spurs won’t take any chances with Leonard. Even without the star forward, San Antonio has a 12-7 record so far this season, good for third in the Western Conference. As such, Parker’s projected timeline for Leonard’s return may not line up with the Spurs’ own timeline. Still, it’s encouraging to hear from Parker that Leonard is close to looking like his old self, particularly since other recent updates from the team on the veteran forward haven’t been as encouraging.

Leonard, who finished third in MVP voting last season, finished the year with 25.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.5 APG, and 1.8 SPG. His season was cut short when he re-injured his ankle in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Warriors.

Texas Notes: Curry, Mavericks, Leonard, Mbah a Moute

Mavericks guard Seth Curry is moving closer to a return, but coach Rick Carlisle tells Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News that there’s still no timetable. Carlisle confirmed that Curry, who suffered a stress reaction in his right leg during preseason, won’t be back before December, but couldn’t offer much more on his status. Curry is working on an underwater treadmill to ease the impact on his tibia.

“He’s inching closer all the time,” Carlisle said. “Again, there’s no setbacks that I’m aware of. He hasn’t participated in live practice, per se. There’s been simulated live situations — stuff with coaches where you have a defender or an offensive player. But it’s very set up so as not to create risk. But he’s working at it. He wants to be back. But it’s just got to happen at the right time.”

Curry, who is making a little more than $3MM, was hoping for a strong performance this season before heading into unrestricted free agency next summer. The 27-year-old appeared in 70 games last year, starting 42, and averaged 12.8 points per night.

There’s more NBA news from the Lone Star State:

  • The Mavericks haven’t given up on the postseason despite their abysmal start, Sefko writes in a separate story. Dallas improved to 5-15 with Saturday night’s win and is just four games out of a playoff spot. “This locker room is full of winners,” said Wesley Matthews. “We got three guys who have won championships and a bunch of veterans that have been on really good teams. We’re not comprised of players who haven’t won. It’s just a matter of getting an identity and we’ve started to do that.”
  • The Spurs got some good news on the injury front earlier today with Tony Parker‘s announcement that he plans to play tomorrow, but Kawhi Leonard‘s situation remains murky, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Leonard has been out since before the start of the preseason with right quadriceps tendinopathy, and a source says the team is “perplexed” by his slow recovery.
  • Luc Mbah a Moute has been a perfect addition to the Rockets, writes Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. Signed as a defensive specialist, Mbah a Moute has contributed on offense as well, averaging 8.2 points per game, and was an incredible plus-57 in Wednesday’s win over the Nuggets.
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