Based on everything that was reported when Kawhi Leonard injured his right quad this summer, he should be playing basketball for the San Antonio Spurs right now. We’re more than a month into the 2017-18 NBA season, and not only have we not seen Leonard suit up for the Spurs yet, but it doesn’t even sound like he’s close.
The Spurs have been fairly secretive about Leonard’s injury and recovery, so in an effort to better understand what Leonard is dealing with, the San Antonio Express-News asked Sabrina Strickland, an orthopedic sports surgeon, about Leonard’s injury. Strickland said, “I think he’s going to be fine if they are truly saying what is wrong with him.”
The Spurs are good enough to bide time in the Western Conference while Leonard recovers. They probably don’t need him to land a playoff spot, so while they’re smart to play it safe with their franchise player, the real concern is if this quad injury will linger with Leonard long term. Strickland speculated that the reason Leonard may be taking this long to recover is that it could be a “more chronic” injury.
“With rest and physical therapy, they get over it and get back (in action) pretty quickly, but with ones that are more chronic, that’s when players tend to have more aggressive treatment, something more evasive than just the rest-and- rehab route, such as platelet rich plasma (therapy), and that can slow them down for a while because you have to allow some time for that to work.”
Pop just told me he’s “never” throughout his entire coaching career come across the issue that Kawhi Leonard is experiencing with his quad. He said “what’s weird” is that Tony Parker has essentially the same issue, “a quad tendon, but worse,” but Kawhi isn’t any closer to returning than TP, who will be back “very soon” according to Pop.
If Leonard’s quad injury is the most “weird” injury Popovich has ever seen, that should tell you all you need to know about how much his recovery hasn’t gone according to plan. Tendon injuries are fickle, so we’ll hold our major concerns until Leonard misses a significant portion of the season. For now, we’ll keep waiting for Popovich’s next vague update and hope Leonard returns to the court “sooner than later.”