The latest NBA rumors involving San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard have focused on the reports of his absence from the lineup. Leonard was an NBA MVP candidate a season ago and has gone missing in action this latest season due to injury concerns. Those issues have caused him to remain out of games for a large part of the season, and now he's expected to miss the postseason. After a recent loss to the Golden State Warriors, fans in San Antonio are worried about him returning to the team next season too.

Leonard's status

As reported by Yahoo Sports' Shams Charania on Sunday, Leonard will continue working to rehab his right quadriceps injury as his team attempts to pull off an improbable first-round upset against the reigning NBA champs.

That means Leonard won't be available should his team even miraculously win this matchup. Spurs' head coach Gregg Popovich also said that it was up to Kawhi's "group" of medical staff as to when he returns to their lineup. Based on the rumors going around, plenty of other teams are trying to lure Kawhi Leonard away from San Antonio to join their cause.

One of the latest teams mentioned was the Los Angeles Clippers who were said to have started preparing a trade package for Kawhi Leonard. USA Today's Sam Amick reported that a source that wanted to remain anonymous said the Clippers are interested. Amick also speculated that the Clippers would be willing to pay the price to get Leonard on their roster.

That might include trading two first-round draft picks to San Antonio and other players as part of their package for Leonard.

Will Kawhi stay with Spurs?

Until this latest season, Kawhi Leonard hadn't missed more than 24 games. This latest campaign saw the MVP finalist participate in just nine of the team's 82 regular season games.

Fortunately, San Antonio still managed to stay competitive within the Western Conference thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge leading the way. However, as the No. 7 team in the standings, they drew the No. 2 seed Golden State as their opening round opponent in the NBA Playoffs. The team lost several days ago by 21 points in Game 1.

Leonard will become an NBA free agent after next season.

San Antonio's management realizes that in today's NBA, players will quickly move to a team with better chances of contending. With other potential teams already expressing interest, it may give the Spurs incentive to consider their trade offers. Otherwise, Leonard may walk and the Spurs would receive no value back.

Los Angeles is Leonard's home area, so in addition to the Clippers, one also has to think Magic Johnson wouldn't hesitate to try to add the Spurs star to his new-look Lakers team. Magic is looking toward the summer to sign LeBron James and possibly Paul George, but if those plans fail, he may start trying to land another player, such as Leonard.

There was a team meeting earlier this season which helped prompt NBA rumors of Kawhi Leonard's eventual departure from San Antonio. His teammates left that meeting with no clarity as to where Leonard was at in terms of returning. That still seems cloudy as the team may soon be contemplating trades as part of their offseason.