Leonard will miss the entire preseason while rehabbing an injury to his right quadriceps, the Spurs announced Saturday. There is no definitive timetable for his return.
Coach Gregg Popovich told reporters in San Antonio that the thigh has bothered Leonard since the playoffs. The two-time All-Star and two-time defensive player of the year has been working on rehabilitation all summer but is still not ready to get on the court.
"It’s just from last year, working on things from last year," Popovich said . "It’s gone a little more slowly than we thought."
Leonard averaged 25.5 points and 5.8 rebounds for the Spurs last season. He was voted first team All-NBA, first team All-Defence and finished third in the MVP voting behind Russell Westbrook and James Harden.
The Spurs said it was quadriceps tendinopathy, a condition that can cause the tendon to tire with overuse. Leonard did not participate in a team scrimmage Saturday that was open to the public.
"It’s all about coach wanting him to be 100 per cent and ready to be Kawhi on both ends of floor," point guard Dejounte Murray said.
The Spurs will need Leonard to be the two-way dynamo he has become more than ever this season. The Western Conference is loaded with talent, with the Houston Rockets (Chris Paul), Oklahoma City Thunder (Paul George, Carmelo Anthony) and Minnesota Timberwolves (Jimmy Butler) all making significant additions to their rosters to try to catch up to the Golden State Warriors.
The Spurs played the Warriors tougher than anyone last season and were up 25 points in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals before Leonard left with a badly sprained ankle. They added Rudy Gay and Joffrey Lauvergne while bringing back free agents Pau Gasol and Patty Mills to a team that won 61 games in the regular season.
Popovich said Leonard’s thigh injury was not related to the ankle issue.