San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gave another vague update on the status of injured All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard. Per Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News, Popovich was asked if there’s “light at the end of the tunnel” for Leonard, the veteran mentor replied: “Oh, sure. He’s gonna be back sooner rather than later.” Popovich, however, failed to elaborate on his statement, saying when he uttered it, he was thinking “what the hell does that mean?” Leonard has been sidelined since the start of the preseason due to a right quadriceps tendinopathy, an ailment that has bothered him since last season.

Earlier, Popovich said Leonard could come back this month, but he said recently that his All-Star forward’s recovery has been slower than expected.

Popovich said Leonard’s injury will not hold the team back, saying some other players will take up the forward’s minutes. “We have to figure out who to go to when in a different way, and you just move on,” said Popovich, per Express-News. Popovich is known for resting his players and prevented injured ones from returning until they are fully healthy. In last year’s Western Conference Finals, Popovich did not risk playing Leonard for the rest of the series after he suffered an ankle injury in Game 1.With Leonard out, the Golden State Warriors cruised to the NBA Finals via sweep.

Long way to go for Kawhi?

Earlier, Popovich told Orsborn that Leonard’s body hasn't reacted the same way to the rehab routine as that of veteran point guard Tony Parker. After he completes his rehab, Leonard will have to go through the normal process before he takes the court, like three-on-three and five-on-five training to make sure that the All-Star forward is ready physically and mentally before taking the court.

Last month, Larry Ramirez of KSAT 12 spotted Leonard limping and noticeably in pain while boarding a flight to Chicago.

Parker could return at the end of this month

According to Michael Wright of ESPN, Parker is getting close to returning with the point guard hoping to come back at the end of this month. Popovich disclosed that Parker is doing great in his rehabilitation and could come back earlier than expected.

Earlier, it was expected that Parker will return from quadriceps tendon tear surgery in January. The Spurs can afford to play without Parker, with Patty Mills, Dejounte Murray, and rookie Brandon Paul effectively doing the playmaking chores.