Kawhi Leonard could return as early as Tuesday

EditorialsWill Kawhi Leonard surpass Tim Duncan as the best Spur ever

San Antonio Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard is expected to return to action during the team's game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday (Friday AEDT), per reports.

Leonard, 26, missed the team's first 27 games of the season due to right quadriceps tendinopathy before playing December 13. His lengthy bouts with injury have kept him sidelined for all but nine games this season and while the Spurs held on early, they've tumbled all the way to seventh in the West, just one game ahead of the tenth place Utah Jazz. "I'm just competing", he said in a post-game interview on ABC.

San Antonio announced on January 17 that Leonard was out "indefinitely", and coach Gregg Popovich said in February that he wouldn't be surprised if Leonard missed the whole season.

Leonard finally made his season debut on December 12 (Dec. 13, PHL time), scoring 13 points in 15 minutes as the Spurs lost to the Mavericks.

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Leonard's potential return couldn't come at a better time for the Spurs.

How quickly Kawhi would be able to get back to playing 30 minutes a game and not have to take any games off besides the only back-to-back set the Spurs have left on their schedule (April 3 and 4 on the road against the Clippers and Lakers) is a mystery.

Leonard said during the week that he would return to action soon, but he did not give a date.

The two-time Defensive Player of the Year could have a major impact on a Western Conference playoff race that was already crowded with teams jockeying for position.