Tuesday, 20 February, 2018

Kawhi Leonard's rehab creating rift with coaching staff

GettyImages-678167972 Sources: Kawhi Leonard's rehab creating chilling effect with team
Nellie Chapman | 23 January, 2018, 13:17

Amid the reported turbulence between San Antonio Spurs injured star Kawhi Leonard and the organization, comes a report that indicates the former Finals MVP could have been shopped to the New York Knicks, according to ESPN's Stephen A. Smith. Leonard reportedly has become "distant" and "disconnected" from the Spurs due to differences in his recovery regiment and timetable for returning to full fitness.

Beyond the current rehab, there are issues that need to be discussed to repaired between Leonard and the Spurs.

But Spurs general manager R.C. Buford shot down ESPN's reporting of a rift between the parties.

Leonard has played in just nine games this season. Overall, they're 30-18, and LaMarcus Aldridge has powered them to be the third-best team in the Western Conference.

The failure for Leonard to get healthy from an injury sustained during the preseason is maddening to both parties. And it's been hard for our staff.

The Spurs recently shut Leonard down for an indefinite period of time. Parker ruptured his left quadriceps tendon in last year's playoffs and has already returned to the lineup despite the fact that it's a much worse injury. Historically we've been able to successfully manage injuries.

"We sought outside expertise with the best tendon experts in the world", Buford told ESPN. "It worked beautifully for Tony [Parker] but it hasn't worked the same for Kawhi". "What's really odd is that Tony Parker has the same injury, but even worse", he told reporters.

Leonard made his season debut on December 12, scoring 13 points in 16 minutes against the Dallas Mavericks. That included not playing him on back-to-back nights and giving him at least two days off between games.

Leonard missed three games with the shoulder injury, then returned to the lineup on January 13 against Denver, scoring 19 points in 28 minutes. But it's still worth noting that San Antonio's new core is different from their old one, and even the Spurs aren't completely bulletproof.

Popovich said that Leonard "didn't reinjure" the quad and insisted that the organization was erring on the side of caution with its franchise player.

Despite the limited action, Leonard's second on the Spurs with 16.2 points a night and first with 2.0 steals.

As far as shutting Leonard down now, Popovich told reporters that "we didn't feel he was ready. So we chose to give it some more time".