Leonard expected to play during Spurs’ upcoming road trip

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Spurs star Kawhi Leonard is expected to make his season debut during the team’s upcoming three-game road trip.

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich would not confirm a report by the San Antonio Express-News that Leonard will make his season debut Saturday in Phoenix.

”Sooner rather than later,” Popovich said of his All-Star forward’s return, repeating an answer he has given all season.

Instead, Leonard is expected to play Tuesday in Dallas against the Mavericks.

Leonard sat out the preseason and the team’s first 26 games with a right quadriceps tendinopathy, a weakening of the tendon. During an impromptu news conference Monday night, Leonard said he began suffering discomfort in his thigh during the offseason. He has not played since aggravating a sprained left ankle against Golden State during the third quarter of Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

Despite not having Leonard all season and Tony Parker missing all but six games, the Spurs (18-8) only trail Houston and Golden State by 2 1/2 games for the West’s best record.