Contrary to head coach Gregg Popovich’s assessment, star player Kawhi Leonard could make his return to the San Antonio Spurs in March. Michael C. Wright and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Leonard will return to the team's facilities in Texas to work out. Leonard stayed in New York for several days as he sought other opinions regarding his right quad injury. While in New York, Leonard worked out at the NBPA headquarters to keep himself in playing shape. He is expected to join his teammates in practice and play five-on-five soon.

Earlier, Popovich told his players to prepare to play the rest of the season without the star player, who was shut down indefinitely by the Spurs due to a nagging quad injury that has bothered him since the preseason.

Last week, Popovich told reporters that he would be surprised if Leonard plays this season. Wojnarowski reported that the Spurs have medically cleared him to return to playing. However, Leonard opted to rest the injury because of the discomfort that he has been experiencing.

Leonard played just nine games this season

After he missed the preseason and early part of the regular season, the 26-year-old Leonard returned in December and played for nine games. During that span, he averaged just 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game, far from last season’s numbers where he finished as a finalist for the MVP trophy. When he was sidelined indefinitely, it was reported that Leonard was “disconnected” from the Spurs during his rehabilitation, causing a rift between the two camps.

However, the forward and Spurs management both denied the reports, saying they are on the same page when it comes to the forward’s health.

Celtics could trade for Leonard

When the alleged rift between Leonard and the Spurs swirled around, there were rumors of a possible trade. Leonard has two years left from his deal with the Spurs, but he can become a free agent after the 2018-19 season with the help of an opt-out clause in his contract.

Matt Burke of Metro US said the Boston Celtics could make a run at Leonard in the offseason if he becomes available via trade. Burke said the Celtics could offer young players Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown, or both to the Spurs to get Leonard. Aside from the Celtics, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post said many team could also join the chase for Leonard in the offseason. Despite the questions surrounding his health, Leonard is a valuable asset to any team due to his versatility.