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During his weekly NBA podcast, ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski expanded on his report about how Kawhi Leonard‘s relationship with the San Antonio Spurs has become strained due to the All-Star’s quad injury.
On Thursday, Wojnarowski reported that the injury, rehabilitation and timetable for a return has complicated the Spurs and Leonard’s relationship, causing tension and fraying the fabric of what was once a strong partnership.
Wojnarowski went into more detail on his podcast Friday and said there is a tremendous disconnect between Leonard and the Spurs. He even dropped a nugget about how Spurs coach Gregg Popovich may have been speaking and calling out Leonard through the media.
“When Pop came out of that first media availability on Wednesday after All-Star break, and it was described to me as people who know Pop very well, that they felt he was speaking to an audience of one in that availability. That he was talking directly to Kawhi,” Wojnarowski said. “Essentially he said, ‘Well at this point I don’t expect him to play and if he’s going to play, this needs to happen soon because we’ll be faced with a very tough decision: at what point is it too late to try to bring him back into the team?’
“For the first time you could see the public exacerbation of Pop on this issue. It has been a private frustration there. I thought it was the first day you could see it. This continues on and I think his future in San Antonio if he doesn’t come back and play this year, or if he comes back in a very limited way, I think his future is going to have to be addressed there.
“It has created an incredible amount of stress around the organization, front office, coaching staff, teammates. I think Pop was talking to the players the other day. I think the question people are wondering and the question being asked is does he [Kawhi] want to be there? Does he want to play there?
“He could clear this up and answer these questions. He hasn’t done that. That’s part of some of the issues here. He’s not communicative. That’s been something since the very beginning. Maybe he’s gotten a little better in that area, but he’s a person who is just private, shy. Even with his teammates, doesn’t say much. With his coach. I think that’s contributed to this because I don’t know if he expresses always what he might be at odds with or what the issue is, but there’s no question there is a tremendous disconnect between (Kawhi) and the team right now.”