The door may be closing further on any chance of Kawhi Leonard playing again this season.
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Tuesday that his franchise player is not necessarily close to a return from his quad injury, confirming a report from earlier in the day. He added that Leonard must be cleared by his own doctors first before they can sit down to determine a timetable together.
"Like anybody else, he's frustrated," Popovich said, according to ESPN's Michael C. Wright. "But the first step is he's got to be cleared by his medical staff that he's seeing. And until he gets cleared, we can't make a decision on when he's coming back. So once he gets cleared, then he and I can sit down and talk, and see what we think about an appropriate time to come back. But that clearance has to be obtained first. Nothing overrides the medical staff."
Leonard spent three weeks in February with specialists in New York regarding his quad. That reportedly strained relations between the player and the organization - something Leonard's camp later denied.
Popovich suggested again that shutting down the two-time Defensive Player of the Year for the postseason is a real possibility, which would be similar to what happened when Tim Duncan suffered a knee injury at the end of the 1999-2000 season.
"If we're going to err, we're going to err on the conservative side because his career is going to be of paramount importance to us," Popovich said. "It's not the game or the playoffs or this or that. It's the same like with Tim. He hurt a knee one year, and we didn't let him go in the playoffs. I don't know that that could be this situation. We don't know. But his career will be paramount in our thinking as we make a decision."