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Spurs’ Leonard might miss rest of season – Popovich

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By Agence France-Presse

San Antonio star forward Kawhi Leonard is still battling injury and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Wednesday he’d “be surprised” to see him return this season.

“On Kawhi, I’d be surprised if he returns this season,” Popovich told reporters as the Spurs returned to practice in the wake of the NBA’s All-Star break.

“There are only X number of games left in the season and he’s still not ready to go,” added Popovich, whose remarks were posted on NBA.com.

“If by some chance he is (ready) it’s going to be pretty late in the season. But it’s going to be a tough decision, how late do you bring somebody back?

“That’s why I’m just trying to be honest and logical,” Popovich added. “I’d be surprised if he gets back this year.”

Leonard, the Most Valuable Player of the 2014 NBA Finals and a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, has played just nine games this season because of recurring tendinopathy in his right quadriceps.

The 26-year-old missed the first 27 games of the season before an abortive return in December. The two-time All-Star hasn’t played since January 13, and the Spurs said on January 17 that he would be out indefinitely.

Even without him, the 35-24 Spurs are clinging to third place in the Western Conference. The teams in front of them, the Houston Rockets and reigning champion Golden State Warriors, have both won 44 games.

The 35-25 Minnesota Timberwolves are nipping at the Spurs heels for third place, and Popovich said his players will have to plan on defending their position without Leonard.

“The team has to realize that this is who we are, this is who we have,” he said. “Wishing and hoping doesn’t do anybody any good. We’ve got to do what we can to be the best team possible.” (AFP)