San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard could return to the Spurs as early as Thursday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans, ESPN’s Lisa Salters reported Saturday.
Leonard said earlier this week that he planned to return soon from his right quad injury.
“Soon, I don’t have a set date right now,” Leonard said. “The progress that I’m making has been great so I have to keep doing what I’m doing.”
The Spurs all-star forward said his pain level is diminishing. He’s participating in physical contact and is feeling better.
Many of the reports surrounded the frustration the Spurs and Leonard had getting him back on the court.
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“I don’t feel like nothing was friction,” Leonard said. “I talked to Pop every day, he knew what the progressions were. He knew what I was doing the entire time, as well as the front office. We made a group decision so it wasn’t just me saying I’m going to go out and do this.”
When asked if he wants to finish his career as a Spur, Leonard answered, “Yeah, for sure.”
Leonard has missed all but nine games this season for a Spurs team that is fifth in the Western Conference at 37-28.
The 26-year-old missed the first 27 games of the season due to his ailing quad, and after returning to the lineup for nine contests, he landed back on the shelf, having last played on Jan. 13.
In nine games, Leonard is averaging 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 steals.
Last season, he finished third in NBA MVP voting after putting up 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per contest in the best statistical campaign of his career.
The Spurs have sorely missed Leonard, who is a two-time All-Star, two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and one-time NBA champion, and he was also named the 2014 NBA Finals MVP.