Spurs hold players-only meeting to urge Kawhi Leonard's return for playoff push

The San Antonio Spurs are ready for Kawhi Leonard to return.

The Spurs held a players-only meeting after their win over the Minnesota Timberwolves last weekend to try to get Leonard to return to the starting lineup, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported, in order to help the team in its push for the playoffs.

Wojnarowski said that the “tense and emotional” meeting was led by Tony Parker, and featured several players speaking up to express “frustration and confusion over a growing divide” between Leonard and the Spurs. Leonard, though, insisted he had his reasons for missing most of the season with a right quad injury.

However, Spurs forward Danny Green disputed the ESPN report almost immediately on Twitter.

Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News painted a different picture than Wojnarowski, too. Young reported that the meeting “wasn’t tense,” and that Leonard was simply “caught off guard by the meeting.”

Young also said that Leonard received support from some of his teammates in the meeting — which only lasted five to 10 minutes — who urged him not to return until he’s fully ready.

Leonard has not played in a game since Jan. 13, and has only played in nine games this season. While the 26-year-old has impressed coaches and teammates in workouts — which he resumed on Feb. 27 — and has attempted to make his return multiple times in recent weeks, Leonard has backed down each time.

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Kawhi Leonard through his career
San Diego State Aztecs' Kawhi Leonard (L) and Connecticut Huskies' Kemba Walker scramble for a loose ball during the second half of their NCAA West Regional college basketball game in Anaheim, California March 24, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Kawhi Leonard stands with NBA Commissioner David Stern after being selected by the Indiana Pacers as the 15th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft in Newark, New Jersey June 23, 2011. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard (L) goes to the basket against Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah (C) and Taj Gibson during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Chicago, February 11, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan (C), Kawhi Leonard (L) and Manu Ginobili celebrate after a basket against the Miami Heat in the first half during Game 3 of their NBA Finals basketball playoff in San Antonio, Texas June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
May 31, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) attempts a shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter in game six of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 29, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) is pressured by Orlando Magic shooting guard Arron Afflalo (4) during the first half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 15, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) dunks the ball during the second quarter against the Miami Heat in game five of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 21, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) and forward Kawhi Leonard (2) between plays against the Sacramento Kings during the first quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
May 29, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots over Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) during the second half in game five of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Miami Heat's LeBron James (R) looks to pass around San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard during the first quarter in Game 2 of their NBA Finals basketball series in San Antonio, Texas, June 8, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Jun 15, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) celebrates in the locker room with the Finals MVP trophy after defeating the Miami Heat in game five of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. The Spurs defeated the Heat 104-87 to win the NBA Finals. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) poses for a picture during media day at Spurs Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 28, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) gets his NBA championship ring from San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
April 22, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the second half in game two of the first round of the NBA Playoffs. at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 13, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Western Conference forward Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs (2) looks on during practice for the NBA All Star game at Ricoh Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images (TAGS: Sport Basketball NBA) *** Local Caption *** 2016-02-13T174655Z_1762526181_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_NBA-ALL-STAR-PRACTICE.JPG
Jan 12, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots the ball over Los Angeles Lakers small forward Luol Deng (9) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) talks with head coach Gregg Popovich during the second half against the Sacramento Kings at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 22, 2017; Memphis, TN, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts during the first half against the Memphis Grizzlies in game four of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
May 14, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts after an injury during the third quarter in game one of the Western conference finals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Spurs 113-111. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
May 20, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (in suit) watches from the bench against the Golden State Warriors during the first half in game three of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 2, 2018; New York, NY, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts with San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) against the New York Knicks during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
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The Spurs currently sit in sixth place in the Western Conference standings with just 11 games left in the regular season. Though many on the team are now doubting that the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year and 2014 NBA Finals MVP will play again at all this year.

“He is not coming back,” guard Manu Ginobili said. “For me, he’s not coming back because it’s not helping (to think he will return). 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 jump ball.”

Leonard is eligible for a $200 million contract extension this summer and for free agency in 2019.

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