HOUSTON — San Antontio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’ll speak to Kawhi Leonard on Tuesday when the team returns home, and it’s expected the club could gain some clarity about the star forward’s potential return to the lineup.
“I’ll see Kawhi tomorrow,” Popovich said. “We’ll see how he’s feeling, and see how ready he is, and see how ready I think he is. And we’ll go from there.”
The team has targeted a home matchup on Thursday against the New Orleans Pelicans as the date for Leonard’s potential return, according to multiple sources, as first reported by ESPN’s Lisa Salters.
Popovich was asked on Saturday about the report of Leonard’s return, and said, “Well good for them. I’m glad they’re reporting that. I don’t know what they reported. I don’t hear. I don’t worry about reports.”
Leonard’s pending return date hasn’t changed, and is barring a setback from a right quad injury, sources told ESPN. Leonard said last week he planned to return “soon” from the injury, which has kept him for all but nine games so far this season.
A two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Leonard played in those nine games after missing the season’s first 27, but returned to the sideline after playing against the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 13.
Leonard said he has been riding a stationary bike and participating in three-on-three drills to simulate the physical contact of games, but he has done so with staff members but not teammates.
Leonard admitted that the only way to work himself into proper cardiovascular condition is to actually play in games.
The Spurs (37-29) now rank seventh in the Western Conference standings after losing 104-94 on Saturday on the road to the Oklahoma City Thunder and have struggled of late, running off a record of 3-8 in their past 11 outings.