Kawhi Leonard has been medically cleared, is choosing not to play

DENVER CO- FEBRUARY 23 Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets shoots the ball during the game against the San Antonio Spurs

Nuggets game day: Denver faces NBA's “standard bearer” for final time

The star forward met with a specialist in NY to get a second opinion before the All-Star break, and he was apparently told he will not injure himself further if he plays.

Leonard missed the first 27 games of the regular season, and he returned to participate in nine contests before the Spurs made the decision last month to sideline the forward indefinitely.

While recovering from right quadriceps tendinopathy, Leonard told the organization several times during his rehabilitation process he was not comfortable with his ability to play through the injury.

ESPN's Michael C. Wright reported that Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said he would be "surprised" if the San Diego State product returns this season. "I'll be surprised if he's back this year". Most fantasy owners should already be resigned to a lost season.

Even without Leonard, the Spurs are in play for the 3 seed in the West with a 35-24 overall record. Sure, the playoffs are a different animal and you know that a Popovich-led team that boasts the veteran experience of the Spurs is going to be as prepared as ever, but still, as insane as it sounds even in my own head, I want the Jazz to face San Antonio in the first round.

"I think our league has been built the right way as far as when it comes to the post-season", James said Wednesday after the Cavaliers' first practice since the All-Star break. And if by some chance there is, it's going to be pretty late into the season. However, if Utah were to get the sixth seed and the top three teams stay as they are now, they would face off in the first round against the Spurs instead. There's a huge logjam in the conference behind the Rockets and Warriors, which means one extended losing streak could cause the Spurs to actually fall out of the playoff race, territory they haven't been familiar with since the pre-Tim Duncan days.

Leonard is a two-time All-Star and two-time Defensive Player of the Year, as well as the 2014 NBA Finals MVP. The team has continued without their best player, and it's a testament to the coaching acumen of the legendary Pop. "I had never seen it before those guys". The news that Kawhi probably won't be back, however, leaves the Spurs without a defender to shut down Paul George, Kevin Durant and LeBron James and without a dynamic wing player to close games late. I think we'll be happy if he comes back.

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