Report: Rehab process spurs divide between Kawhi, front office

There has been no shortage of questions, rumor and downright frustration regarding the Cleveland Cavaliers this season.

Tuesday night, they will face team that is having a bit of a “situation” itself, apparently, when they visit the San Antonio Spurs.

According to a report by Adrian Wojnarowski and Michael C. Wright of ESPN, the long saga All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard’s right quadriceps injury has had a “chilling” impact on the relationship between its best player and the team.

The report said multiple sources have described Leonard and his group being “distant” and “disconnected” from the organization, a rarity for the Spurs under president and head coach Gregg Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford.

And while the injury has caused Leonard to miss all but nine of the San Antonio’s 38 games this season, the report said there is damage to be repaired in the relationship between Leonard and the team.

“There is no issue between the Spurs organization and Kawhi,” Buford told ESPN. “From Day 1, all parties have worked together to find the best solutions to his injury.”

Buford said the steps through rehabilitation of Leonard’s injury has been frustrating.

“This has been difficult for everyone,” the Spurs GM told ESPN. “It’s been difficult for Kawhi. He’s an elite-level player. It’s been difficult for the team, because they want to play with a great teammate. And it’s been difficult for our staff.

“Historically we’ve been able to successfully manage injuries. This rehab hasn’t been simple and it hasn’t gone in a linear fashion.”

The team shut Leonard, a two-time All-Star, down last week and sent him back to San Antonio to continue the process of rehabilitation. Leonard related to the team at different points in the process that he has not comfortable with his ability to continue to play during the rehab, so the Spurs made the decision the shut him down.

“We sought outside expertise with the best tendon experts in the world,” Buford told ESPN. “It worked beautifully for Tony [Parker] but it hasn’t worked the same for Kawhi.”

In his nine games this season, the 6-foot-7, 230-pound Leonard has averaged 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds 2.3 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.0 blocks in 23.3 minutes a game.

For his career, the 26-year-old Leonard averages 16.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 0.7 blocks in 30.4 minutes per game.