The Los Angeles Clippers are set to face Dejounte Murray and the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center on Saturday night. The Clippers have been without superstar forward Kawhi Leonard the entirety of the season as he continues to rehab from a torn right ACL. As the star gets closer and closer to his highly anticipated return, it leads to one to wonder: Is Leonard playing vs. the Spurs?
Is Kawhi Leonard playing vs Spurs?
So far, the Clippers have a 21-22 record through 43 games without the two-time NBA Finals MVP. The latest report from Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes is that Leonard is ahead in his recovery and that a return this season is a ‘strong possibility.’
Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue recently said there isn’t much on Leonard but hinted at some things to be potentially excited about.
Kawhi Leonard underwent surgery to repair the partial tear of his right anterior cruciate ligament on July 13, 2021. It has been nearly six months since his operation, and he has been hard at work to return this season.
The Clippers star was first seen taking jump shots during practice last October 19:
Kawhi Leonard put up some jumpers today before Clippers practice. pic.twitter.com/8MLEvHQ2kZ
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) October 19, 2021
According to NBA on TNT, Leonard was doing explosive box jumps on November 10.
“Um, jump up on this table,” Lue said, putting both hands on the three-foot high table he was sitting in front of. “Just seeing him active and being able to jump and progress in the way he is, it’s just good to see. But that’s about it.”
Missed this since we weren’t privy to the TNT feed last night, but Kawhi Leonard has been doing “some explosive box jumping just a couple of days ago” and, as far as Marcus Morris Sr. is concerned, “he’ll be back, hopefully, in the next week or two.” pic.twitter.com/NHUBUDkPwr
— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) November 10, 2021
On December 26, here’s what Lue had to say about Leonard and his progression.
“He’s doing good,” Lue said with a smirk. “I haven’t seen much. Haven’t been looking. I don’t want to get too excited, you know, so I haven’t been looking.”
One thing is for sure: Kawhi Leonard wants to return this year and is working hard behind the scenes to try and make it happen. There’s still a long way to go until both his medical team and the training staff clear him, but a return in March or April can’t be ruled out just yet.
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne also reported that Leonard’s recovery is going well, but he’ll have critical benchmarks to clear before determining whether or not it’s worth it for him to return this season.
— Clippers Content (@clipperscontent) January 11, 2022
“Just trying to get healthy is what’s next,” Leonard said on Media Day. “The same stuff you usually do for a specific injury. Work on it, lift weights, make sure you don’t compensate, and you’re strong and stable. Just keep following that path; that’s all I can do. Just take it one day at a time.
“One thing I wanted, to secure some money, and I wanted to be able to come back if I was able to this year. If I would have took the one-and-one, I probably would have not played just to be cautious and opted out and took a five-year.”
“Just working with the staff day-to-day. When that available date comes, we’ll be ready for it, and it’ll be out in the public.
“That’s the challenge of it, just seeing how quickly I can get better and how much stronger I can get.”
– Kawhi Leonard on his rehab, potential return pic.twitter.com/PtDgKQcwac
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) September 27, 2021
There was another recent report claiming that Kawhi Leonard’s return would hinge on whether the Clippers are in the playoff hunt as well as the status of Paul George’s shoulder injury. At this time, George has not been re-evaluated, and the team is in the thick of the things for a spot in the play-in tournament.
As the Clippers prepare to take on the Spurs for the third and final time this season, the question is answered… for now. Is Kawhi Leonard playing tonight? No.