Reports: Spurs held players-only meeting with Kawhi Leonard
NBA.com Global on Mar 23, 2018 07:59 AM
SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 9: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs goes to the basket against the Houston Rockets in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals on May 9, 2017 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
NBA.com staff report
Kawhi Leonard has not suited up for the San Antonio Spurs since mid-January. As the team closes in on the final 10 games of its season, a players-only meeting was held with Spurs players and Leonard in an attempt to get him back in the lineup soon.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and the San Antonio Express-News' Jabari Young, the Spurs and Leonard held a players-only meeting after San Antonio's 117-101 home win against the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 17 (Mar. 18, PHL time). Wojnarowski reports that the purpose of the meeting was to implore Leonard to return to the lineup and help the team in its playoff push:
Spurs guard Tony Parker, a four-time NBA champion, quarterbacked the meeting with his teammates and Leonard after Saturday night's victory over Minnesota, league sources said.
The conversation was described as tense and emotional at times, league sources said.
Several teammates spoke up, expressing frustration and confusion over a growing divide with Leonard that has created significant tension between the franchise star and the Spurs, league sources said.
Leonard, 26, was resolute in response, insisting that he had good reason for sitting out all but nine games with a right quad injury this season, league sources said.
Leonard has targeted games in the recent week, only to decide that he wasn't feeling confident in the injury to return, league sources said.
Young reported in the Express-News today that some Spurs veterans did talk with Leonard on March 17 (Mar. 18, PHL time), but the meeting was not termed as tense or featured players imploring Leonard to return:
Sources tell the Express-News veterans held a players-only meeting that was led by Tony Parker after Saturday's win over the Minnesota Timberwolves to ask Leonard about his return.
The vets wanted to know if Leonard indeed intended to play this season, and if so, was he planning to return soon.
Leonard was reminded about the Spurs' status – in the middle of a playoff push with now 11 games remaining. According to sources, Leonard, who was caught off guard by the meeting, stood his ground. He spoke up telling those that inquired about his status that when he is healthy enough, a return was still the goal. But Leonard offered no set date or guarantee about a return this season.
Leonard did receive support from some teammates, urging him not to return until he feels healthy enough, sources told the Express-News.
Shortly after the ESPN story circulated on Twitter, Spurs forward Danny Green tweeted: "Couldn't be anymore incorrect lol"
Couldn’t be anymore incorrect lol https://t.co/xo4yVyOvn2— Danny Green (@DGreen_14) March 22, 2018
Before the Spurs' game last night vs. the Washington Wizards last night (Thursday, PHL time) -- which wound up being their fifth straight win -- Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said he is operating under the notion Leonard won't be back this season. The team held the annual team picture yesterday, which Leonard participated in, but he was not around for Wednesday's (Thursday, PHl time) shootaround.
"He is not coming back," Ginobili told reporters Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). "For me, he's not coming back because it's not helping [to think Leonard is returning]. We fell for it a week ago again. I guess you guys made us fall for it. But we have to think that he's not coming back, that we are who we are, and that we got to fight without him."
Leonard has been rumored to return soon for weeks and there was hope he was going to suit up for a March 15 (Mar. 16, PHL time) game against the New Orleans Pelicans. That did not happen and Leonard, who is recovering from quadriceps tendinopathy in his right leg, continues to be out of the Spurs' lineup.