Will this be the beginning of the end of the relationship between the San Antonio Spurs and superstar Kawhi Leonard? This question has been hounding the Spurs since head coach Gregg Popovich revealed that Leonard could miss the rest of the season due to a nagging quad injury. In an interview with reporters, Popovich said he would be surprised if Leonard plays this season. Earlier, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Leonard has been medically cleared to play, but last year’s MVP finalist elected not to return to the active roster. According to Wojnarowski, the Spurs have allowed Leonard to decide if he can manage the discomfort brought about by the injury.

Leonard has sought second opinions in New York, while working out at the National Basketball Players Association headquarters in Manhattan. Sources said Spurs team personnel accompanied Leonard in New York where he spent 10 days before the All-Star break. Now, it’s all in Leonard’s hands if he will make his return to the Spurs or continue his recovery from the quad injury that has been hounding him since the preseason.

Leonard, Spurs deny rift

Since the Spurs indefinitely shut him down last month after seeing action in just nine games, it was reported that Leonard has been distant and disconnected from the team, according to Michael C. Wright and Wojnarowski of ESPN. However, several media reports have it that Spurs general manager RC Buford and Leonard’s business manager Dennis Robertson had a “great conversation” and denied that there were any issues between his client and the organization.

This season, Leonard was averaging 16.2 points and 4.7 rebounds in 23.3 minutes of play before the Spurs shut him down indefinitely to enable him to recover from the quad injury.

Spurs to trade Leonard?

However, Marc Stein of the New York Times said the league is abuzz with rumors that the Spurs could part ways with Leonard via trade in the offseason.

Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post reported that the Spurs could lose Leonard for nothing if he becomes a free agent after next season. Leonard has two years remaining in the five-year, $94.3 million deal that he signed in 2015, but he has a player option in the last year, enabling him to leave the Spurs after the 2018-19 season.

Despite his injury issues, Bontemps said many teams will line up and take that risk: “Many teams would be willing to part with significant assets to do so. Players like him don’t come along every day,” said Bontemps.