Report: Spurs hold emotional players-only meeting urging Kawhi to return

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The San Antonio Spurs need Kawhi Leonard back.

The team held a players-only meeting Saturday to ask the superstar to return to the lineup and help them make a playoff push, league sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Veteran point guard Tony Parker led the meeting, which was described as "tense and emotional at times" as teammates expressed frustration and confusion over the organization's growing rift with Leonard - a divide his camp previously denied.

For his part, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year reportedly insisted he had good reason for sitting out the majority of the season due to a puzzling right quad injury. He's averaging 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, two steals, and a block in 23.3 minutes over just nine games in 2017-18.

However, Spurs shooting guard Danny Green refuted the entire report:

Jabari Young of also reported the vet-led meeting took place, but his sources indicated the players merely asked Leonard if and when he's planning to return this season. The 26-year-old reportedly replied he does expect to be back, but offered no set date.

Related - Ginobili on Leonard: 'We have to think that he's not coming back'

Head coach Gregg Popovich indicated last month he'd be surprised if Leonard played again this season, which the All-NBA talent repudiated two weeks ago, saying he'll be back "soon."

Leonard last played on Jan. 13, and although he was cleared by team doctors in February, he cannot return to the active lineup until permitted by his own medical staff. While he hasn't looked himself in the contests he has played this season, the Spurs would rather have the elite two-way forward available for the final 10 games of the season and the playoffs, granted they get there.

San Antonio has won five in a row and is tied for fifth in the Western Conference, which sounds cushier than it is. The Spurs, who've made 20 consecutive playoff appearances, are just three games up on the ninth-place Denver Nuggets and have the toughest remaining schedule of the teams in the race.

Report: Spurs hold emotional players-only meeting urging Kawhi to return
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