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Gregg Popovich: Kawhi Leonard to Return ‘sooner rather than later’

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich offered an update of sorts on the status of injured All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard.

Asked if there is “light at the end of the tunnel” for the Spurs’ linchpin player, Popovich said after shootaround Tuesday morning, “Oh, sure. He’s gonna be back sooner rather than later.”

Popovich also offered some insight on the mindset the Spurs adopted once they knew Leonard was going to be out for an extended period after he was diagnosed with right quadriceps tendinopathy, an ailment that has bothered him since last season.

The Spurs have been without Leonard since the start of the preseason. The club has yet to offer a timetable for his return, and Popovich said last week the star’s process toward recovery has been slower than expected.

Source: Tom Osborn of the San Antonio Express-News

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Orlando Magic Ending Orlando Summer League

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The Orlando Magic will not hold their annual summer league in Orlando next year and will participate instead in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, team officials told the Orlando Sentinel.

The decision is a radical departure for the Magic, who ran and managed their own summer league in Central Florida 14 times since 2002.

“The pendulum is swinging toward teams playing in Vegas,” Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said.

“It’s a level of competition and a level of exposure when more or less every team in the league is there and you’re playing in front of 20,000 people as opposed to playing in a gym with a few hundred people. So it better prepares you for what NBA life is really about with the crowds, the pressure, the travel — a lot of what you’re going to have to confront. Obviously, it’s not a true test of an NBA season, but it’s a little taste.”

Twenty-four teams participated in the NBA Summer League this past summer. Each team had three preliminary games followed by a tournament with seedings based on the preliminary games’ results. Teams in Las Vegas played a minimum of five games overall.

Meanwhile, eight teams participated in the Orlando Pro Summer League this year and played five games apiece. In addition to the Magic, the other teams were the Charlotte Hornets, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder.

NBA officials prefer to have all 30 teams participate in the Las Vegas event.

Source: Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel

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Zach LaVine to Be Cleared for Contact Practice on Monday

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Plan is for LaVine to visit his doctor in Los Angeles Monday morning and on track to be cleared for contact practice Monday afternoon at UCLA.

Source: K.C. Johnson on Twitter

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Sources: Patrick Beverley to Return to Clippers Monday

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The LA Clippers, reeling on an eight-game losing streak, are planning for the return of starting point guard Patrick Beverley against the New York Knicks on Monday, league sources told ESPN.

Beverley has missed five straight games with a sore right knee. He has averaged 12.9 points, three assists and three rebounds for the Clippers this season.

Los Angeles has struggled without its opening-night backcourt of Beverley and rookie Milos Teodosic. As Beverley plans his return on Monday, Teodosic’s return is still uncertain. He suffered an injury to his left plantar fascia in October and isn’t expected back in the near future.

The Clippers have won only once since a buzzer-beating victory over Portland on Oct. 29 capped their 4-0 start.

Source: Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN

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