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Kawhi Leonard has a partial tear in his left shoulder, according to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. The club has held out Leonard for five games since he returned December 12 as a component of what it has called "return from injury management". He appeared to be rounding into form lately, with back-to-back 20-plus point games against the New York Knicks and the Phoenix Suns and at least 18 points in each of his last four games. According to ESPN's Michael C. Wright, the Spurs aren't too concerned about the injury and they hope Leonard will be able to play on Thursday against the Lakers.

The Spurs are doing just fine so far this season, mostly without Leonard, as they have the third-best record in the Western Conference at the exact midpoint of the schedule (27-14).

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This is a major disappointment for the Spurs because when healthy, Leonard has become one of the best all-around players in the National Basketball Association. Leonard was ruled out because of what the team described as a shoulder strain, but Popovich said it was a tear.

While the addition of veteran Rudy Gay should help ease some of the scoring load, everyone on the roster will have to step up to replace a player of Leonard's caliber.