San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard said he hopes to return to the line-up soon and denied there is any friction between the team and himself over his treatment for an injury.
The Spurs forward, who has not played since January 13 and has only featured in nine games all season because of quadriceps tendinopathy, is set to resume limited workouts this week.
Leonard's return to the line-up is not expected until later this month at the earliest. The Spurs may opt to play it safe and hold him out until the playoffs next month.
Then again, there remains the possibility Leonard might not play at all this year, a possibility head coach Gregg Popovich raised in February.
Leonard did not practice with the Spurs on Wednesday, but talked to the media.
"I don't have a set date right now," Leonard told reporters. "I just have to keep doing what I'm doing. The progression that I am making has been great. I just have to keep doing what I'm doing."
The two-time NBA All-Star and 2014 NBA Finals MVP has received medical clearance from the team to resume practicing, but he is still in pain. He decided to get a second opinion on his own to deal with his condition.
Leonard denied his treatment has created issues between himself and the team.
"Everything was done as a group," Leonard said. "I don't feel like nothing was friction. I talk to Pop everyday. He knows what the progressions were, he knew what I am doing the whole entire time."
As far as the pain, Leonard says he is feeling better.
"It's diminishing," he said. "It's hard to explain, but I am definitely better. Feel better and am feeling more comfortable."
Looking ahead, this looms as a big offseason for Leonard. The Spurs will be able to offer him a five-year, supermax contract extension worth $219million that would keep him in San Antonio through the 2024 season.
Only 26, Leonard's best days should be ahead of him. But his injury history — he has played more than 65 games only three times in seven seasons — and current condition make that prospect a bit dicier than it would have seemed before this season began.
Asked if he would like to finish his career in a Spurs uniform, Leonard said simply, "Yeah, for sure."
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