On Monday, ESPN reported that sources within the NBA say there's a disconnect between Spurs star Kawhi Leonard and the franchise
, including the coaching staff, following months of treatment and rehab for his quad injury last May
. Leonard's family, however, deny that report.
Multiple unnamed sources told ESPN that Leonard has been "distant"
from Spurs president/coach Gregg Popovich as well as general manager RC Buford. Buford, however, denied those rumors in an interview with ESPN.
"There is no issue between the Spurs organization and Kawhi," Buford told ESPN. He said "all parties" have worked together to best approach Leonard's injury, but also said the process "has been difficult for everyone."
Depending on interpretation, it seems that Buford did admit that something is off in the player-organization relationship.
"Historically we've been able to successfully manage injures," Buford told ESPN. "This rehab hasn't been simple, and it hasn't gone in linear fashion
After the ESPN article came out on Monday, Leonard's entourage responded by saying the article was entirely false
. Leonard's uncle, Dennis Robertson, told the San Antonio Express-News
that there isn't any tension. Robertson said the organization is doing the right thing for the team and for Leonard – making sure that the star player heals correctly
The drama comes after Leonard's December 12 return
to the court after missing nearly 30 games of the regular season. Leonard played nine games (on a time restriction) before he strained his left shoulder in the January 5 game against the Phoenix Suns.
After that injury, Leonard missed three games. That isn't too surprising, since Popovich is known for being cautious when it comes to key players being injured. But on January 17, the Spurs announced that Leonard would be out indefinitely
Now, Leonard is continuing his rehab efforts
. Buford told ESPN that the organization sought "outside expertise with the best tendon experts in the world," the same consulted for Tony Parker's quad tendon injury (which is said to have been worse), also from last season. But Buford said Leonard isn't healing like Parker did
Popovich admitted in November that Leonard's healing process was taking longer than expected and that he had never seen an injury like that
It's one hell of an injury because we're hurting, too.