Despite being injured frequently in recent years, Kawhi Leonard is healthy and ready to play for the Los Angeles Clippers this fall.
Leonard said before practice on Tuesday, just a day before the season opener against the Portland Trail Blazers, that he had recovered from both his ACL injury and his meniscus injury.
“I feel good and ready to go,” Leonard said. via ESPN. “I think last year was from ACL, so it’s pretty much a two-year process. Talk to boys.” [who suffered ACL injuries] And seeing when they start to feel good or just trust your knee, that’s just something that you feel and I mean one day that changes for you. So it wasn’t really anything different.
Leonard underwent his first surgery in 2021 to repair a torn ACL. He missed the entire 2021-22 season to recover but returned to play in 52 games for the Clippers last season. Last year he was limited by knee soreness and a sprained ankle, then left the playoffs early with a meniscus injury.
Leonard then underwent further surgery in June to repair his knee injury.
Leonard averaged 23.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last season, which was his lowest output since his final season with the Spurs in 2017-18, which was limited to just nine games due to injury.
“It’s about how the whole body felt at that point, and I felt like I was still trying to overcome some hurdles and just get healthy,” Leonard said of last season. via ESPN. “But I was able to show the fans or other players in the league and myself that I was capable of playing at a high level… I just tried to get healthy, just tried to move and I knew that the numbers would come. “I wasn’t really focused on that at the time.”
The Clippers went 44-38 and made the playoffs last season, but lost in the first round to the Suns. They will still be shorthanded at Crypto.com Arena on Wednesday night as both Terance Mann and Bones Hyland are dealing with ankle injuries.
While he knows it will take more than just a healthy Leonard to make a meaningful appearance in the Western Conference this season, head coach Ty Lue is just happy to have Leonard at full strength. In his four seasons leading the organization, this is the first time he has done so in a year.
“It’s different when there are restrictions. “You can’t play live all the time, you can’t go through all the execution plays you want to do, and that’s a big difference,” Lue said. “And like I said, with him and [Paul George] And [Russell Westbrook] We come in this year, we just set the tone at the start of training camp, we did all the conditioning, with all the running, we didn’t complain and we just did it. And that was our mindset.
“We want to get off to a good start this season. We don’t want to start the season loosely.”