More than a year since his last NBA game, Kawhi Leonard has been cleared to play a 5-on-5 match after he tore his ACL in 2021.
Lawrence Frank, Los Angeles Clippers president, said that they are proceeding with caution with Leonard. The five-time All-Star and two-time NBA Finals MVP had torn the ACL in his right knee back in the playoffs back in June 2021.
Immediately following that, he missed the entirety of the season and has not played since.
“Well, I think, one, he feels great,said Frank to reporters in Los Angeles. *Two, his plan is, look, he wants to participate in everything. And I think, three, organizationally, we’re going to be cautious. So it will be a step-by-step approach.“You want those expectations,’’ Frank added. *Any time you have a talented team, there should be expectations. You embrace them, and you always have to shoot for the highest goal. Our goal is not just to try to compete and win a championship this year, but be in the same position the following year and the following year after that.’’
The amount of downtime Leonard experiences is expected of an ACL tear. He had played with San Antonio and Toronto prior to playing with the Clippers.
“We all embrace the challenge but realize how fragile it is,*Frank said. *All we have to do is go back two years ago to Kawhi’s injury against Utah. Kawhi was playing the best basketball of any player in the world. Our team was playing at a high level. Unfortunately for Kawhi and for the group, he got injured.”
“I think with that, it reinforces the urgency you have to approach every single day. Nothing is guaranteed.’’
In other injury news for the team, Frank also confirmed that Paul George’s elbow injury has also been cleared.
“Paul, his elbow is 100 percent healthy,Frank said. ‘‘Paul has had an extremely purposeful, driven, and very productive offseason, in that his consistency of training has been off the charts. Plus, he continues to take more and more of an ownership and leadership role.