Anonymous NBA executives don’t blame Kawhi Leonard for slow return
Some anonymous NBA executives aren’t blaming Kawhi Leonard for his slow return to action after a quad injury.
While the San Antonio Spurs are increasingly frustrated by their star forward’s absence, rival executives said Leonard is simply trying to avoid becoming the next Isaiah Thomas or Grant Hill by rehabbing slowly and waiting for clearance from his own doctors.
“Look at Isaiah’s situation,” a Western Conference executive told Vincent Goodwill of Bleacher Report. “Are you kidding me? Cost that guy a whole bunch of money by coming out trying to play.”
An Eastern Conference executive said Leonard shouldn’t be punished for getting a second opinion from his own doctors, even after team doctors cleared him.
“That’s your moneymaker. This is how you make a living. That’s your leverage,” the executive said. “If you feel that [team doctors] didn’t do a good job or weren’t thorough enough, I have no problem with players getting second opinions.
“For peace of mind. We’re confident in our ability as an organization, we encourage that. Go get one. We’re cool with that. Whatever makes you mentally comfortable, go for it.”
Leonard is eligible for a “supermax” contract extension this summer, which is also a factor.
“As a player, potential free agent, that sticks a little to him,” the executive said. “If you rush him, you end up with Grant Hill in Orlando.”
Hill played through an ankle injury in his waning days with the Detroit Pistons and moved to the Orlando Magic, where he was an injury-riddled disappointment. Thomas’s season has ultimately been wrecked by lingering hip issues. Leonard doesn’t want to join that company, and some in the league don’t blame him.