Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard has been cleared to participate fully in training camp next week in Las Vegas, marking a significant, and ideally final, step in his recovery from his 2021 ACL injury.
The Los Angeles Clippers, however, aren’t ready to rush their star back just yet.
On Thursday, the Clippers insisted that they proceed with a “step-by-step” approach and ease Leonard back in as they start camp.
“He feels great,” Clippers president Lawrence Frank said, . “His plan is, look, he wants to participate in everything. And I think organizationally, we’re going to be cautious. So it will be a step-by-step approach.”
Leonard didn’t play at all last season for the Clippers after he first tore his ACL during the second round of the playoffs in 2021.
The 31-year-old averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game that season, his second in Los Angeles.
The Clippers are going to open their season on Oct. 20 against the Los Angeles Lakers, but they will play a pair of preseason games on Sept. 30 and Oct. 3 in Seattle. It’s unclear if Leonard will be allowed to participate in the preseason at all.
The team, Frank said, just isn’t ready to make that call.
“When you’re dealing with a major injury, you can’t predict,” Frank said. “I know with him, he wants to do everything, but we’ll just kind of let’s see how he feels each day. We have an outstanding medical team, and we’re playing the long game with it.
“So we’re not going to get into predictions, what he will do or he won’t do … We’ll figure out, is that best for his body? One day it may be. The next day, we’ll have to reassess. We’ll rely on the feedback we get from Kawhi, obviously from the medical team. It’s too early to predict. We have time before we need to get there.”
Kawhi Leonard will look to build off the team’s recent acquisitions to finally propel them over the hump in the Western Conference.