Manu Ginobili on Kawhi Leonard: ‘He’s not coming back’

San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) is interviewed during media day at the Spurs training facility.

Having missed all but nine games this season to a quad injury he suffered in the 2017 Western Conference Finals, San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard had been angling for a return some time this month. But as the calendar nears April and with the playoffs set to begin here soon, the odds of Leonard returning this season continue to dwindle.

Just ask teammate┬áManu Ginobili, who simply doesn’t think there’s any chance Leonard returns this season.

“He is not coming back,” veteran guard Manu Ginobili said, via ESPN’s Michael C. Wright. “For me, he’s not coming back because it’s not helping [to think Leonard is returning]. We fell for it a week ago again. I guess you guys made us fall for it. But we have to think that he’s not coming back, that we are who we are, and that we got to fight without him. That shouldn’t be changing, at least until he is ready for the jungle.”

Manu is right in that there have been several indications this season that Leonard was set to return. At every turn, his rehab didn’t show enough progress for the perennial MVP candidate to take to the court.

With less than three weeks until the end of the regular season, the Spurs simply can’t rely on Leonard to return. They currently find themselves as the fifth seed with a 41-30 record, just one game ahead of Utah at No. 8 in the standings.

If Leonard is somehow able to return for the end of the regular season or the playoffs (assuming San Antonio makes it), that would be a major boon for the team. But at this point, it’s looking increasingly likely that the 2017-18 will be a lost season for both Leonard and the Spurs.