SAN ANTONIO — Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard made his return Monday, as the team hosted the Atlanta Hawks at the AT&T Center, after spending four days going through the NBA’s concussion protocol.
The outlook for power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, however, remains uncertain after he underwent a battery of medical tests Monday, after experiencing an episode of minor heart arrhythmia over the weekend.
“We’re just gonna wait until he comes back and assess everything,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said regarding Aldridge. “I think he’ll be back either tomorrow morning or tonight — I don’t know which.”
In other injury news, point guards Tony Parker (back) and Dejounte Murray (groin) remained out.
Despite the uncertainty regarding Aldridge’s immediate future, the Spurs received some positive news in Leonard’s quick procession through the league’s concussion protocol. Leonard attended the team’s shootaround Monday morning at the Spurs’ practice facility. The forward emerged from the locker room for pregame warm-ups just minutes before Popovich held his pregame news conference.
Leonard and Aldridge sat out of San Antonio’s pivotal win Saturday over the Golden State Warriors.
Leonard suffered the injury Thursday in the Spurs’ loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Leonard suffered a blow to the left side of his head by Victor Oladipo as the Thunder guard flailed his arms after losing the ball on a drive to the basket.
Leonard connected on a pair of free throws at the 2:29 mark of the third quarter in that game before walking off the court to the locker room with a trainer, only to never return to the floor. The club originally anticipated that Leonard would not go into the NBA’s concussion protocol but changed course after performing additional evaluations.
Leonard’s injury came during a contest that a few Spurs described as “chippy” due to the physicality between the teams.
As for Aldridge, the power forward wasn’t at the team’s facility during morning shootaround or at the AT&T Center for Monday’s game, as he was completing a series of medical tests.
Popovich said Saturday that Aldridge complained of “feeling odd” after Thursday’s loss at Oklahoma City.
“We just don’t know the extent of LaMarcus’s health and situation,” Spurs center Pau Gasol said Monday morning. “I guess we’ll take it one game at a time, and we’ll all just try to adjust from there. Hopefully, he’ll be back with us soon and at full strength and full health, which is the most important.”
As a rookie in 2007, the 6-foot-11, 260-pound Aldridge received a diagnosis of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which is an abnormality of the heart’s electrical system that can cause an abnormal heartbeat and dizziness.
Aldridge sat out the final nine games of that season with the Portland Trail Blazers after undergoing a minor procedure to correct the issue. Aldridge experienced a recurrence of the condition at the start of the 2011-12 season after it was discovered during a preseason checkup with a cardiologist — which he has had every year since he was diagnosed with WPW — and underwent a radiofrequency catheter ablation. That’s the same treatment Aldridge received in 2007 after he was diagnosed with WPW.
Still, Aldridge was able to return to action just 10 days later for a preseason outing against the Utah Jazz.
“He’s a great player,” Spurs reserve David Lee said. “He’s one of our cornerstones right now, a guy that gets a lot of isos in the post and can do a lot of things for us and demand double-teams and things like that. So we’re definitely going to have to do it by committee. But I think that it’s something that we’re gonna be capable of doing. It’s gonna take every one of our big stepping up and Coach being a little creative with the rotations.”