Is Kawhi really finished for the season?
SAN ANTONIO —
SAN ANTONIO - It's always there in the back of your mind. Sports anchors can speculate or take a guess, but it's never a reality until you hear it straight from Coach Pop. He'll be surprised if Kawhi Leonard plays at all again this year. He told Spurs fans not to expect Leonard back for the rest of the season.
The Spurs went back to practice after the all-star break this afternoon. Rudy Gay and LaMarcus participated. They'll be back soon. But Pop has his doubts about Kawhi. Too few games, too little time to work him in.
But before you go jump off the nearest bridge, consider the source, the complexity, the history and the psychology. That could very well be Pop's honest opinion, or it could be a message to the media and fans to quit asking, Or maybe a message to Kawhi - and more importantly his team: We're moving on.
It's been no secret that the Spurs and Kawhi have not always seen eye-to-eye during this recovery. For months we've wondered who was making the call. Pop or Kawhi?
Well, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Kawhi has been cleared to play, but won't. And depending on his pain tolerance, he will decide if and when to come back. That would mean twice now, Kawhi has been cleared to play and decided not to.
So Pop's message? Prepare like he's not.
Message received -- at least by the team.
The question? What's Kawhi's interpretation? We'll never know because he will stay in hiding.
And there are bigger questions to be answered. Not just what this means for the playoff run, for the playoffs, for the off-season, his possible extension or for his long term future as a Spur?
The only thing we do know is that no Spurs superstar has ever been this difficult for the team, the media or the fans to figure out.