NEW YORK (AP) — Kawhi Leonard is headed back to the sidelines, and he’ll stay there until his leg is ready.
The San Antonio Spurs decided to shut their All-Star forward down Wednesday, saying Leonard would be out indefinitely as he continues his recovery from injury.
“We didn’t feel he was ready. His confidence level wasn’t there, so we decided to give it some more time,” coach Gregg Popovich said before the Spurs played the Brooklyn Nets.
Leonard has played in just nine games after missing the beginning of the season because of right quadriceps tendinopathy. He also was sidelined briefly because of a shoulder injury.
Popovich said Leonard hadn’t sustained another injury, but also didn’t seem confident in his ability to play at the level that had him finishing third in the voting for NBA MVP last season.
“He didn’t reinjure it or anything but he was having pain, but not right after games, but maybe the next day at noon or that kind of thing and so the pain wasn’t dissipating,” Popovich said. “It wasn’t going in the right direction, it was going the other way and you’ve got to be confident in your body to go out there and play at the level that he’s expected to play.
“So if we’re going to err, I’m going to do it on the conservative side and just decided we’re going to go back to the rehab and the strength and all that, try to get him more whole before we get him back out on the court.”
Popovich said Leonard would be back this season.
Leonard, who twice was the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, is averaging 16.2 points this season.
Starting guards Tony Parker and Danny Green have also battled injuries this season and were playing Wednesday under minutes restrictions. The injuries have hindered the Spurs, who went to the Western Conference finals last year but were only a half-game ahead of Minnesota for third place going into Wednesday’s play.
“It’s a horrible situation. It’s bad,” Popovich said. “The players look right and left, they don’t know who’s going to be there from night to night, and it’s tough to get a rhythm and get a flow to the game for sure. But every team’s got problems they’ve got to take care of, so ours are no worse than anybody else’s.
“But to play with the big boys you’ve got to have all your guys, and so we’ve got to have them ready if we think we’re going to have anything to do with the end of the season.”
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