Kawhi Leonard could be available as early as Thursday against Pelicans

Kawhi Leonard could be available as early as Thursday against Pelicans

San Antonio Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard is expected to return to action during the team's game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday (Friday AEDT), per reports.

Speaking publicly this week for the first time since being shut down, Leonard confirmed that he was looking to return "soon" and it now looks likely that he'll be back in a Spurs uniform in the coming days. Head coach Gregg Popovich added more speculation to his potential availability after speaking to Leonard on Tuesday afternoon.

Leonard stepped away from playing to focus on rehabbing the injured quad after a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended on January 13.

If everything goes to plan, we should see Kawhi Leonard back on the court this week for the first time since January 13. Drama has engulfed Leonard since he first went down with a quad injury, as rumors have swirled that he's been unhappy with how the team has handled his recovery and that he wants out of San Antonio. Leonard and Popovich touched base again Tuesday; the two have remained in daily contact, with the forward inching closer to a possible return.

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I don't have a set date right now [for my return], Leonard said, per Michael C.Wright of ESPN.com. The two-time All-Star and two-time Defensive Player of the Year is in his seventh season with the Spurs after being drafted No. 15 overall in 2011.

2 points and 4.7 rebounds in the nine games he played and never looked quite like he was completely over the injury. San Antonio isn't getting Kawhi Leonard back just yet. Although the Spurs have won a fair share of their games this year, they seem to be too inconsistent to be taken seriously as playoff contenders.

The Rockets toppled the Spurs on Monday night.

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