The comments by Gregg Popovich to the media that Kawhi Leonard could miss the remainder of the season despite being medically cleared to play signalled a shift in how the Spurs are handling the situation.
"When Pop came out sort of that first media availability on Wednesday after All-Star break, and it was described to me as people who know Pop very well, that they felt he was speaking to an audience of one in that availability. That he was talking directly to Kawhi," said Adrian Wojnarowski on The Woj Pod.
"Essentially he said, 'well at this point I don't expect him to play and if he's going to play, this needs to happen soon because we'll be faced with a very tough decision: at what point is it too late to try to bring him back into the team?'
"For the first time you could see the public exacerbation of Pop on this issue. It has been a private frustration there. I thought it was the first day you could see it. This continues on and I think his future in San Antonio if he doesn't come back and play this year, or if he comes back in a very limited way. He'll be a year away from free agency, I think his future is going to have to be addressed there."
Wojnarowski reported that it has been surprising considering the previous relationship Leonard has had with the Spurs before this injury.
"It has created an incredible amount of stress around the organization, front office, coaching staff, teammates. I think Pop was talking to the players the other day (as well)."
Leonard spent several days in New York as he sought additional opinions on his injured quad.
"I think the question people are wondering and the question being asked is 'does he want to be there? Does he want to play there?'
"He could clear this up and answer these questions. He hasn't done that," said Wojnarowski. "That's part of some of the issues here. He's not communicative. That's been something since the very beginning. Maybe he's gotten a little better in that area, but he's a person who is just private, shy. Even with his teammates, doesn't say much. With his coach. I think that's contributed to this because I don't know if he expresses always what he might be at odds with or what the issue is, but there's no question there is a tremendous disconnect between (Kawhi) and the team right now."