Leonard intends to play this season, wants to remain with Spurs long term
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports / Action Images

Reports of a growing rift between the San Antonio Spurs and their franchise player were greatly exaggerated, it seems.

Addressing the media after practice Wednesday, Kawhi Leonard - who has been out of action since Jan. 13 with a quad injury - made it abundantly clear that his return to action is just around the corner.

"Soon. I don't have a set date right now. I just have to keep doing what I'm doing," said the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, according to the San Antonio Express-News' Tom Orsborn. "The progression that I am making has been great. I just have to keep doing what I'm doing."

The Spurs' relationship with Leonard was reportedly on shaky ground as a result of his rehab from right quad tendinopathy. Their medical team cleared him to compete, yet the 26-year-old opted not to return to the active roster. He chose instead to seek out other specialists and continue his recovery.

Leonard's decision, though, wasn't done without the blessing of his head coach and Spurs management.

"Everything was done as a group," Leonard said. "I don't feel like nothing was friction. I talk to Pop (Gregg Popovich) every day. He knows what the progression were. He knew what I was doing the whole entire time, as well as the front office. We made a group decision, so it was me just going out and saying, 'I am going to go out and do this thing.'"

Leonard is under contract through next season at just under $21 million, with a $21.3-million player option in 2019-20 that he's likely to opt out of. When asked if he plans on finishing his career in black and white, Leonard responded: "Yeah, for sure."

As far as when he expects to be back in uniform, the two-time All-Star said he's not going to travel with the team for its upcoming three-game road trip beginning Thursday against the Golden State Warriors and finishing Monday in Houston against the Rockets.

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Leonard intends to play this season, wants to remain with Spurs long term
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