The plot thickens with the San Antonio Spurs and Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard has been medically cleared to return from his right quad tendinopathy injury, but the two-time Defensive Player of the Year has elected against returning to the active roster, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Leonard spent 10 days before the All-Star break consulting with a specialist in New York, Wojnarowski reports. On Wednesday, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich shocked reporters in attendance by saying he'd be surprised if his star player returned this season.
"We only have X number of games left in the season and he's still not ready to go," Popovich said. "And if by some chance there is, it's going to be pretty late into the season."
The two-time All-Star has only played nine games this season, and never more than two in a row. The injury dates back to the preseason, and Popovich said he'd "never seen an injury like Leonard's" in November.
He was shut down indefinitely on Jan. 17, and as of Wednesday, the Spurs have 23 games left in the regular season.
The Spurs currently sit in third place in the Western Conference. San Antonio still ranks second in the NBA in defensive rating but has a tough upcoming schedule with road games in Denver, Cleveland, Golden State, Oklahoma City, and Houston.
The last time the Spurs won less than 50 contests in an 82-game campaign was in 1996-97.