Kawhi Leonard set to return; Wesley Matthews' season likely done

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

ABC Sports reported on Saturday that Leonard was targeting a return Thursday against New Orleans. His return would give the Spurs a huge boost on both ends of the court. For now, Popovich and the Spurs camp are waiting until Leonard is cleared to see when the two-time MVP player will be comfortable to return.

Leonard missed the first 27 games and after coming back to play nine games, last played on January 13. Meanwhile, guard Marcus Smart has a tendon injury in his right thumb and could miss extended time, and rookie center Daniel Theis is "likely to miss the remainder of the season after tearing his left meniscus", according to ESPN. "So, once he gets cleared, then he and I can sit down and talk and see what we think about an appropriate time to come back". Leonard and Popovich touched base again Tuesday; the two have remained in daily contact, with the forward inching closer to a possible return.

"I'm just competing", he said in a post-game interview on ABC. "And we'll go from there", Popovich said.

The San Antonio Spurs can not wait to get back two-time All-Star Kawhi Leonard soon enough if they are to have any chance of extending their National Basketball Association (NBA) record streak of 20 straight play-off appearances.

Last week, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski noted that Leonard returned to San Antonio's practice facility after rehabilitating for several weeks in New York City. But obviously, I'm a competitor, and if I can play, I'm going to go out and play like I did in the nine games, just to test it out. Currently, the Spurs (37-30) are in 10th place in the Western Conference. The Spurs, who were without leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge, got 14 points each from Forbes and Derrick White.

The Spurs have withered in his absence, faltering in 15 of their last 23 games after last night's defeat.

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