Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard has torn ligament in right hand, return unclear

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As of this moment, the Spurs, with a record of 17-9, sit at just seventh place in the Western Conference standings.

San Antonio more than any other team coaches for the season instead of on a game-to-game basis, and Gregg Popovich knows better than anyone that having his team at full strength and firing on all cylinders once the postseason begins is really all that matters.

But an injury to a key player may throw a wrench into the team’s plans for an indeterminate amount of time.

From Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News:

Per Kawhi Leonard, he has torn ligament in right hand; must wait for swelling to reside before considering returning

Spurs Kawhi Leonard, listed out with bruised right hand, has a torn ligament “Not as bad as it sounds,” he said. “I should be back soon.”

And from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Just a couple games before the likely return of Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard from a torn ligament in his right hand, league source tells Yahoo.

Not as bad as it seems is the prevailing conclusion, which is important, given the strength of the rest of the teams out West.

Not only have six teams in the conference managed to have a better record than the Spurs to this point of the season, but the Thunder are expected to go on a sizable run now that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are back in the fold, while Dallas upgraded its starting point guard significantly by acquiring Rajon Rond in trade from the Celtics.

If Leonard only misses a couple of games as expected, then little harm will be done. But given the tenacity of so many other teams vying for playoff contention, San Antonio not only needs to be healthy, but may need to rest its star players less than usual in order to secure a favorable playoff position.