He's dealt with somewhat mysterious injuries to his shoulder and quad that have never seemed to be reported on clearly. "I'm just competing", he said in a post-game interview on ABC.
Shortly after that, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski indicated that Kawhi was cleared to play, but the decision to return was his.
The principal reason for that is quite simple.More news: Renee Baio reveals she was diagnosed with a brain disease
Thursday's tilt will be the third time New Orleans and San Antonio has played this season.
But Leonard disputed those reports last week, asserting that he said he and the Spurs had always been on the same page during his rehab and that he "for sure" hoped to finish his career in San Antonio.
Aside from LaMarcus Aldridge and Leonard, veterans Rudy Gay and Pau Gasol are the only other Spurs players who are averaging double digits in scoring this season with 11.3 and 10.7 points per game, respectively. He played nine games before the team made a decision to shut him down indefinitely on January 17 due to concerns about the way his quad was healing.More news: Florida and Florida State prepare for first-round matchups in NCAA Tournament
Leonard's return would bring an end to a seemingly endless saga, and one highly unusual for the usually drama-free Spurs.
Leonard is bound to have some rust and his teammates will need to adjust to him as well, so there's no telling how quickly the Spurs, whose issues have been plentiful, will be able to recover.
The two-time All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year last played for the Spurs in mid-January, and has since been placed on the shelf.More news: Kyrie Irving Exits Game With Knee Soreness
Not to mention that the Western Conference is as loaded and deep as it's ever been. Stay tuned to this space for the latest Kawhi Leonard injury update.
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