ESPN’s Michael C. Wright and Adrian Wojnarowski are reporting that Kawhi Leonard plans to return to the San Antonio Spurs practice facility this week. Leonard is also reportedly eying a return to game action by late March. This report comes after Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich told reporters that he would be “surprised” if Leonard returned this season.

Leonard recently returned to San Antonio after spending the last three weeks in New York, where he worked out at the National Basketball Players Association headquarters gymnasium, and sought further consultation on the right quad injury that has hampered him all season long.

According to Wojnarowski, Leonard's decision to take his time coming back from injury after reportedly being cleared to play has "inspired a palpable stress around the organization." Regardless of how the Spurs front office feels about their star player's apprehension to return, Kawhi also needs to look out for himself, especially when his career hangs in the balance. 

As Leonard enters his prime, it’s in his best interest to take as much time as he needs to ensure that his quad is 100 percent when he returns to action with the Spurs. Kawhi will need to decide if he wants to exercise his $21.3 million player option next year or test out the free agency market. Considering that this season turned out to be a wash, it’s crucial he comes back strong in what could wind up being his contract year.