Nick Wright reacts to Gregg Popovich saying he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard returned this season

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In his conversation with Cris Carter, Nick Wright reacts to San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich saying he'd be surprised if his star player Kawhi Leonard returned to play this season despite the Spurs' medical staff clearing him to play. What does this mean for San Antonio's playoff chances?

NICK WRIGHT: As Chris has taught me, it's very important to listen to the exact words these guys are saying. Sometimes we just throw away the press conferences. It's code speak, whatever it is.

I want to read the exact quote. You just heard part of it. "It's going to be a pretty tough decision, how late to bring somebody back."

So what he's saying there is it is not simply, will Kawhi say, himself, I'm ready to go. But there is a date Gregg Popovich has in mind that, if he is not ready to go by this date, he's not coming back, even if he wants to. And that is jarring information for a top eight player in this league, for a guy who had a lot of MVP buzz, and for a team-- it's not like the Spurs-- well, we're in twelfth place. We're not going to make the playoffs. Maybe we just shut him down.

They're the three seed right now. Right now, there are five teams in the league overall with a better record than them. With a healthy Kawhi Leonard, they are a true championship contender-- maybe not top tier, but certainly the top of the second tier.

And then you read the great reporting from Adrian Wojnarowski, where he says, in his lede, Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he's prepared to play again. So I don't think it is reaching. I don't think it is hard logical math to say, what Gregg Popovich is saying is, our doctors have cleared you.

You have now done something that is very atypical for any Spur. You've left our cocoon to go to New York to get a second opinion. It is about when you clear yourself.

And this is, to me, Gregg Popovich telling Kawhi Leonard, through the media, listen. If you think the idea is-- because he's been, reportedly, a little disgruntled in San Antonio. If the plan is, with a week left in the season, say, I'm good to go for the playoffs. You might not be able to do that. And that is very different than-- this entire saga, CC, has been very different than anything I'm used to seeing out of that organization.