San Antonio Spurs player Kawhi Leonard (R) dunks the ball against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half of the NBA Western Conference semifinal basketball game five between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs in 2016 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. Photo by Larry W. Smith Corbis/EPA
SAN ANTONIO -- Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard's recovery from an offseason quadriceps injury is headed in the right direction, but the rehab has "just been taking a little bit longer," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said before the team's game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.
"Kawhi's just coming along more slowly for whatever reason," Popovich said. "It's just been more difficult for him to get through the rehab routine, so his body hasn't reacted the same way."
Leonard has not played a game this season due to the injury to his right leg.
The Spurs have stayed afloat without Leonard, who was an MVP candidate last season, and venerable point guard Tony Parker. San Antonio was 6-4 entering play Tuesday.
Popovich was asked if Leonard would have to go through the same process Parker did of playing two-on-two, three-on-three and then five-on-five before he returns for a regular-season game. Parker has been practicing with the Spurs' G League team, the Austin Spurs, on days when the NBA club does not work out.
"Sure, I wouldn't want him to go right from rehab to jumping on the court," Popovich said. "He has to go three-on-three, five-on-five and feel comfortable because in the end that confidence is what anybody who has been out for any length of time has to get that back. Even if the doctors say you're ready to go, you're really not until you're mentally ready to go."
Parker has said his target return date is late November. The Spurs have not said when Leonard is expected to return.