AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Los Angeles Clippers Kawhi Leonard “has not been restricted at all” in June as he continues his rehab from a partially torn ACL suffered during the 2021 NBA playoffs.
Law Murray of The Athletic provided the report.
“I am told Leonard has not been restricted at all this month as he continues what has been to this point a successful rehabilitation process. Leonard has also been locked in mentally, as multiple sources suggest the mental hurdles that usually come with an ACL injury and long-term rehab have not deterred him. Though Leonard appears to be bigger, he has actually slimmed down at this point in his recovery and is continuing to take care of his body.”
There’s no timeline for Leonard’s return, but Murray wrote that “the optimism surrounding Leonard’s seems improvement, however guarded, to be validated by those who have been around him regularly.”
Leonard averaged 24.8 points on 51.2 percent shooting, 6.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.6 steals last year for the Clippers. His season ended prematurely, however, after a knee injury forced him off the court during Game 4 of LA’s Western Conference second-round playoff series win against the Utah Jazz.
The exact nature of Leonard’s injury was not revealed for the duration of the Clippers’ postseason run. However, on July 13, 2021, the Clippers announced that Leonard underwent successful surgery for a partially torn ACL and that there was no timetable for his return.
Good news dropped on Jan. 6, 2022, when Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that Leonard was ahead of schedule in his rehab and that a return to action this season was “within reach.”
“Leonard has amped up his workload in recent weeks and is looking stronger and stronger,” Haynes said, per his sources.
However, Clippers head coach Ty Lue told reporters on Feb. 3 that Leonard “is probably not going to come back” in the 2021-22 season. He did end up sitting the entire campaign.
Haynes provided an encouraging report on Leonard after he was seen working out prior to the Clips’ 112-97 loss to the Golden State Warriors on March 8:
Tomer Azarly @TomerAzarly
“Kawhi Leonard participated in a rigorous pregame that lasted well over an hour… Clippers are being cautious and issuing a timetable on him/PG. Ty Lue said if they can’t be back regular season, then probably not safe to bring them back for playoffs.”
– Chris Haynes pic.twitter.com/bBl4F4D6oa
Lue wasn’t in the mood to talk about Leonard’s possible return on March 9, though.
Tomer Azarly @TomerAzarly
“I’m tired of hearing this shit. When they’re playing, I’ll let y’all know. I’m tired of talking about them every day. We can’t win a game, but we gotta talk about Kawhi /PG. Talk about the guys in the locker room that’s fighting & clawing every single day.”
– Tyronn Lue pregame* pic. twitter.com/ddVKEOSRXe
Leonard’s resume includes a pair of NBA championships and NBA Finals MVP awards. The two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year has also earned five All-Star Game nods and five All-NBA Team recognitions.
The forward began his career with the San Antonio Spurs, where he stayed from 2011 to 2018. He was then traded to the Toronto Raptors, who won the 2018-19 NBA title with Leonard leading the way.
Leonard has spent the last three seasons with the Clippers after signing with them in free agency during the summer of 2019.