The Clippers will likely be without their best player for a good portion of the 2021-22 season.
Los Angeles announced Tuesday that Kawhi Leonard underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of the ACL in his right knee. The team added that there is currently no timetable for his return to basketball activities.
Leonard suffered the injury during Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. The two-time NBA Finals MVP came up limping after a drive toward the basket against Jazz forward Joe Ingles. He ended up sitting the last four-plus minutes of that contest, but in his postgame interview with TNT’s Rebecca Haarlow, he said, “I’ll be good.”
Unfortunately for Leonard, the knee issue was more serious than he thought and ended what had been a spectacular playoff run. In 11 postseason games, Leonard averaged 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.1 steals while shooting 57.3 percent from the field and 39.3 percent on 3-pointers.
While it is impossible to know exactly how much time Leonard will miss, injury expert Jeff Stotts believes his recovery will extend into next year. The 2021-22 campaign is expected to begin Oct. 19, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see Leonard stuck on the bench for the first few months of the season.
Re: Kawhi: Thomas Bryant & Spencer Dinwiddie each missed 60+ games after undergoing surgery for Grade 2 (partial tear) ACL injuries earlier this season. Dinwiddie was cleared for basketball activities ~6 months after surgery. Look for Kawhi’s recovery to carryover into next year.
— Jeff Stotts (@InStreetClothes) July 14, 2021
Leonard can become an unrestricted free agent this summer by declining his player option. With his history of injuries, he may pursue a long-term deal for more financial security.