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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Report: Spurs worried Kawhi Leonard’s camp wants him traded to big market

Kawhi Leonard

The apparent disconnect between Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs has been a topic of discussion throughout the entire NBA season, and there are some who believe Leonard will be playing for a different team next year because of it. Even if Kawhi himself does not want that, the Spurs are reportedly concerned that those close to him do.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Michael Wright took an in-depth look at the tension in San Antonio, and their sources described a situation where the Spurs and Leonard’s camp do not agree about the “exact nature” of the star forward’s quadriceps injury.

Leonard’s camp believes his condition is the result of a series of contusions to the quadriceps that began with one very deep bruise in March 2016 that caused him to miss three games. Leonard was again listed with a “quad contusion” on the Feb. 6, 2017, injury report, when he was a late scratch before a game. But it wasn’t until the end of last season when the severity of the injury became apparent.

According to multiple sources, Leonard’s camp has come to believe the issue has more to do with an ossification or hardening in the area where the muscle has been repeatedly bruised and then an atrophying, which in turn affected the tendons connecting the muscle to the knee.

The Spurs have always called the injury quadriceps tendinopathy, which is a disease of the tendon that has a degenerative effect on the muscle by keeping it in a constant state of exhaustion.

The problem is that the treatment for the two conditions differs, so it’s difficult for everyone to be on the same page. While Leonard has remained relatively quiet throughout the entire ordeal, ESPN reports that his agent, Mitch Frankel, and uncle, Dennis Robertson, have been doing a lot of the communicating with the Spurs on Leonard’s behalf. They were the driving forces behind Leonard finally seeking a second opinion in New York, and the Spurs have reportedly come to feel that they have lost control of the medical care of their franchise player.

One Spurs staffer told Shelburne and Wright that the rehab process is “out of our hands,” while another source said, “Kawhi is the same person. The only thing that has changed about him is the people speaking for him now.”

Which brings us to a potentially bigger issue, and that is that the Spurs are said to be concerned that Leonard’s camp is angling to get the 26-year-old traded to a bigger market.

Popovich’s constant references to Leonard’s “group” are a manifestation of the tension between the Spurs and Robertson and Frankel that has developed over the past year, according to Spurs sources.

Multiple league sources also told ESPN that the Spurs have grown worried that Leonard’s group has an ulterior motive to fray the relationship and get Leonard traded to a larger market like Los Angeles (Leonard’s hometown) or New York or Philadelphia (Robertson lives in New Jersey).

One source close to general manager R.C. Buford said the longtime executive admitted to him that he’s constantly losing sleep over how and why the relationship with Leonard has disintegrated.

The ESPN report contains a ton of information and is worth reading in its entirety. Another interesting tidbit was that Leonard was expected to join the Spurs during their playoff series against the Golden State Warriors as a show of support for Gregg Popovich if the coach ended up returning after his wife passed away. That indicates that the relationship between Leonard and Pop is still strong, which is consistent with a report we recently shared with you.

Popovich seemed to hint at where his frustrations lie with some comments he recently made about the Leonard situation, and that is consistent with what ESPN reported. The drama seems like it is more about the company Leonard keeps than anything else.

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