Inside the tension between Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs

It’s a longggggg article but if you want the best insight into the Kawhi saga…

SAN ANTONIO — He slipped into the frame quietly. Attention was the last thing Kawhi Leonard wanted on this day, or really any day. But the San Antonio Spurs were taking their team picture and everyone in the organization needed to be there, in uniform and smiling, if only to prove they were indeed part of the team this year.

Leonard had been back in San Antonio for a few weeks by the morning of March 21. Several of his Spurs teammates had seen him working out in the team’s facility. But picture day was the first time many had seen him in uniform since Jan. 13, the last of the nine games he played in this season.

“It was very brief,” Spurs veteran guard Manu Ginobili said afterward. “But good to see him around.”

The mystery surrounding Leonard and the right quadriceps injury that essentially cost him the entire season has fascinated and frustrated the entire league. Leonard has spoken publicly only a few times this season, and his statements did little to answer any of the larger questions his protracted absence raised.

On March 7, he said the injury and his current pain level were “hard to explain” but that “obviously I’m a competitor and if I could play, I would play.” He didn’t volunteer any of his feelings about the Spurs, or how they’d managed the situation. But when asked directly if he could see himself finishing his career with the Spurs, Leonard said, “Yeah, for sure.”