Kawhi Leonard Out Indefinitely; Popovich Calls Injury “Very Problematic”

Kawhi Leonard seemed unconcerned when he was diagnosed with a torn ligament in his right hand last week. The reigning Finals MVP even said that he “should be back soon” – simply once swelling subsided. But Gregg Popovich isn’t so sure. Before his team beat the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night, the San Antonio Spurs coach said his young star’s injury is “very problematic” and that Leonard’s assessment of his recovery is inaccurate.

Via ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne:

Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard had an injection in his injured right hand on Sunday and there is no timetable for his return, coach Gregg Popovich said Monday before the team’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

“I don’t know about Kawhi,” Popovich said. “That one’s very problematic…”

“I don’t think that’s accurate,” Popovich said of the reigning NBA Finals MVP. “He got another injection yesterday. One of the doctors said he’s been doing hands for 40 years and it’s the first time he’s ever seen this injury. It’s a little bit unique.”

Leonard injured his hand on December 9 in a loss to the Utah Jazz. He missed San Antonio’s next two games but returned to the lineup for the ensuing pair before nagging pain forced him to sit out of the Spurs’ triple overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. The 23 year-old has been sidelined for the past four games.

Popovich normally doesn’t discuss the severity of player injuries. That he opened up about Leonard’s isn’t only rare, but perhaps telling of just how worried San Antonio is that it could linger for a significant amount of time.

Adding fuel to that fire is a report from Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News that Leonard’s hand could require offseason surgery. The “unique” nature of it is cause for further concern, too.

The most brilliant thing about the Spurs, though, is their ability to withstand the regular season absence of key contributors. Leonard is more valuable to San Antonio than ever, but it could certainly manage without him – especially now that Tony Parker is back. Should this injury affect his play come spring or render him entirely unavailable is when the Spurs would be in trouble.

The Western Conference is a monster, but San Antonio is a machine. If time-off would help Leonard rehabilitate his hand in advance of summer surgery, he needs to take it. The immediate and long-term future of the Spurs hinges too much on his influence for any course of action other than caution.

What do you think?

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