PORTLAND — Meyers Leonard remains as optimistic as he can be despite the fact his season is over and his Blazers tenure remains uncertain.
Leonard spoke to a group of reporters in Portland for the first time since it was announced that he would have surgery on his left shoulder after suffering his second dislocation of the season.
“It’s definitely tough to hear and tough to make the decision,” Leonard said. “I waited for Dame after he shot in L.A. because I wanted to talk to him about my decision. The hardest thing is we surprised so many people this year and I was a good piece of that.”
Leonard confirmed reports that he will be out 6-8 months and also revealed that he suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder.
“I have some ligament damage, he’ll fix it up, he’s very optimistic about surgery and rehab and so am I,” Leonard said about the surgery and diagnosis from Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
Dr. ElAttrache concluded that it was best for Leonard to undergo surgery and while Leonard made the right decision for his health, it’s easy to wonder whether he regrets not signing an extension with the Blazers before the season began.
“I have faith in what I do, on this team, in the future and what more I know I can do,” Leonard said. “Certainly it takes an immense amount of hard work. I’m going to do that. I’m going to rehab, get it done and get it out of the way and come back stronger than ever.”
As Leonard spoke to reporters, his teammates joked with him one by one. The normally quiet Allen Crabbe even came over to poke fun at the throng of reporters around Leonard’s locker.
“The guys keep my spirits up,” Leonard said. “It’s fun to be around them, encouraging them, talking to the young guys, seeing them play minutes. It’s hard to not be out there I’ll admit that. It is what it is.”
Leonard has never missed the time that he’s expected to miss ever before in his career. It’s going to be a new experience and won’t allow him to shoot for several months even though he pledges he will do all possible workouts to stay in shape.
“Bike workouts, running when I can, but I’ll be pretty immobile,” Leonard said. “But I’ll stay sharp mentally and do as much as I can physically.”
Leonard and head coach Terry Stotts both expect Leonard will still be a major part of the team for the remainder of the season.
Surgery for Leonard is scheduled for April 8 and he says that he hopes to be back in time for home playoff games, should the team clinch a birth in the postseason.
And as for the future, despite what may come this summer and potential offers that will come his way as a restricted free-agent, he’s stated his desire to stay with the Blazers.
“I’ve been with Terry the entire time. Neil (Olshey)drafted me, being with our franchise player Damian,” Leonard said. “The future is bright here and I truly hope I will be a big part of it.”