Report: Spurs worried Kawhi group wants him in bigger market

NBA.com Global on May 02, 2018 07:37 AM
Report: Spurs worried Kawhi group wants him in bigger market
FILE - HOUSTON, TX - MAY 7: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs stands for a moment of silence for the National Anthem before the game against the Houston Rockets during Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2017 Playoffs on May 7, 2017 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBA.com staff report

The San Antonio Spurs have a lot of questions ahead of them this offseason after their quick exit from the 2018 playoffs. As our own David Aldridge pointed out in his latest Morning Tip, the next move by the Spurs and their star forward, Kawhi Leonard, will have a big impact on summer roster shuffling as well.

The quadriceps injury that ultimately sidelined Leonard for all but nine games this season led to news of reported tension between he and the Spurs. But Leonard made it a point in March to clear the air and denied talk of friction between he and the team.

However, the concern about Leonard's future and his willingness to stay with the Spurs remains a popular topic among the team and its fans. According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Michael C. Wright, the Spurs have worries that those close to Leonard may be trying to steer him to a bigger-market team:

Over the past several months, ESPN has spoken to dozens of league sources, people close to Leonard and Spurs staffers. They describe a confounding situation, with mistakes made on both sides, and a looming showdown between one of the NBA's most prestigious franchises and one of the best players in the league who has never really flexed his muscles in this way, but just might have the power to alter the NBA landscape.

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Multiple league sources also told ESPN that the Spurs have grown worried that Leonard's group has an ulterior motive to fray the relationship and get Leonard traded to a larger market like Los Angeles (Leonard's hometown) or New York or Philadelphia (Robertson lives in New Jersey).

One source close to general manager R.C. Buford said the longtime executive admitted to him that he's constantly losing sleep over how and why the relationship with Leonard has disintegrated.

In addition, ESPN reports that Leonard's camp has its own feelings as to why Leonard's injury was such a nagging one in 2017-18 for the former All-Star and Finals MVP:

Leonard's camp believes his condition is the result of a series of contusions to the quadriceps that began with one very deep bruise in March 2016 that caused him to miss three games. Leonard was again listed with a "quad contusion" on the Feb. 6, 2017, injury report, when he was a late scratch before a game. But it wasn't until the end of last season when the severity of the injury became apparent.

According to multiple sources, Leonard's camp has come to believe the issue has more to do with an ossification or hardening in the area where the muscle has been repeatedly bruised and then an atrophying, which in turn affected the tendons connecting the muscle to the knee.

The Spurs have always called the injury quadriceps tendinopathy, which is a disease of the tendon that has a degenerative effect on the muscle by keeping it in a constant state of exhaustion.

Once the Spurs season came to an end in Game 5 of the first round, reports surfaced that the Spurs wanted to schedule an all-hands-on-deck meeting with Leonard and the team's brass.

Leonard missed all but nine games this season while nursing right quadriceps tendinopathy, an injury that flared up late in the offseason. He returned to the team's lineup briefly but did not come back again after complaining of soreness in his injured thigh following the Spurs' home win over Denver on Jan. 13 (Jan. 14, PHL time).

After the Spurs lost Game 1 of their first-round series with the Golden State Warriors, Leonard opted to remain in New York to work with his own team of doctors to further rehab his quadriceps injury. Leonard went to New York to work with his own team of doctors for the second time in 2017-18, after first working with them prior to the All-Star break in February. The Spurs' medical staff has been present for both of Leonard's extended stays in New York to stay updated on his progress.

The 6'7" forward has worked out at the NBA Players Association facility in Manhattan during both of his stays in New York.

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