The Clippers reached the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history last season. If they want to return to the playoff round again, they will collectively have to replace the production of their best player.
Kawhi Leonard will be sidelined indefinitely after undergoing surgery in July to repair a partial anterior cruciate ligament tear in his right knee. Leonard may be able to return to rotation at some point during the 2021-22 season, but Paul George and Co. are expected to do the heavy lifting to start the new campaign.
What next, Leonard? Here’s everything we know about his injury and the latest news on when he will return to court.
MORE: Who are the players most affected by Leonard’s absence?
What is Kouhi Leonard’s injury?
Leonard suffered a right knee injury during Game 4 of the 2021 Western Conference semifinals. The two-time NBA Finals MVP came limping after driving toward the basket against Jazz forward Joe Engels. He ended up sitting out the last four minutes or so of that contest, but in a post-match interview with TNT’s Rebecca Harlow, he said, “I’ll be good.”
Unfortunately for Leonard, the knee problem was more serious than he thought, and it ended what was an amazing playoff. Clippers announced on July 13 that Leonard had undergone successful surgery to repair a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament, adding that there had been “There is no timetable for his return.”
In 52 games last season, Leonard averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.6 assists, earning a spot on the All-NBA First Team.
How long will Kawhi Leonard stay abroad?
When asked about the recovery schedule at the Clippers’ media day, Leonard did not give a specific date, only telling reporters that he “works with staff day in and day out”.
“That’s the challenge of just seeing how quickly I can get better and stronger than I was when I was healthy,” Leonard said. “This is where I pretty much shift my mind.”
The 30-year-old added that he signed a long-term deal to stay in Los Angeles in part because he wants to play this season.
“One thing, I wanted to secure some money, and I wanted to be able to come back if I was able this year,” Leonard said. “If I were to take one and one [deal]Maybe I wouldn’t play just to be careful and choose to participate and it took five years [deal]. But here I am. I’m here to be a clipper. I’m not going to another team unless something drastic happens. I’m here for the long haul.”
While it’s impossible to know exactly how much time Leonard will waste, injury expert Jeff Stouts believes his recovery will extend into next year.
Reply: Kawhi: Thomas Bryant & Spencer Dinwiddie both missed more than 60 games after undergoing surgery for a grade 2 ACL injury (partial tear) earlier this season. Dinwiddie was released from basketball activities approximately 6 months after his surgery. Looking for Kouhi to recover in order to carry him over to next year.
– Jeff Stott (@InStreetClothes) July 14, 2021
Kawhi Leonard’s career stats, highlights
- 19.2 points per game
- 6.4 rebounds per game
- 2.9 passes per match
- 0.6 pieces per game
- 1.8 steals per game
- 1.6 RPM per game
- 31.3 minutes per game
- 49.3 percent shoot
- 38.4 percent 3 repayment points
- 85.8% free throw