The Los Angeles Clippers have been trying to bring Kawhi Leonard back as slowly as possible, but even that process can experience delays.
Leonard was ruled out for Tuesday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, as well as a game against the same team on Thursday, after experiencing stiffness in his surgically repaired right knee during the pregame shootout, per ESPN.
Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue reportedly made it clear Leonard didn’t suffer a setback in rehab from a torn ACL in the 2021 NBA playoffs, but the star will still return to Los Angeles to undergo knee treatment.
“After the shootout, (he) felt stiff in his knee,” Lue said before the Clippers played the Thunder. “And so we want to be careful, to make sure we’re doing the right thing, even if he wanted to play. We just thought it wasn’t smart. He can be mad at us if he wants to, but not smart right now.”
After Thursday, the Clippers’ next game is against the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday. Leonard’s status for this game is TBD.
Clippers gently bring Kawhi Leonard back, Paul George also out on Tuesday
Leonard’s comeback from knee surgery which cost him all of last season has so far been limited, but encouraging when he’s on the pitch. At Leonard’s reported request, the Clippers brought him off the bench and he has played in two of three games so far, skipping the first half of a straight game.
Leonard has so far posted 25 points and 13 rebounds in 42 minutes played, shooting 8 of 18 from the field.
It’s been made clear that the Clippers are willing to wait until Leonard feels fully operational before giving him the minutes and usage he usually sees. The team thinks they can make the playoffs even without him given his immense depth, although that strength is already being tested this season.
The Clippers will also be without starters Paul George (illness) and Marcus Morris (personal reasons) on Tuesday, leaving the team to start Terance Mann and Nicolas Batum alongside Ivica Zubac, Norman Powell and Reggie Jackson.
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