NBA

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard could miss most of next season after ACL surgery

The LA Clippers announced that Kawhi Leonard has undergone surgery on a partially torn ACL but were unable to give a timeline on his return.

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Clippers star Kawhi Leonard could miss most of next season after ACL surgery
Kelvin Kuo USA TODAY Sports

LA Clippers star Kawhi Leonard is set for a long spell on the sidelines after undergoing surgery to repair a partially torn ACL.

In Los Angeles' brief statement to announce Leonard’s surgery on Tuesday, the franchise said “there is no possible date for his return”. Though estimations are the recovery period from an injury of this nature could take from six months to one year, meaning he could miss most of the 2021-22 season.

“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,” tweeted Injury analyst Jess Soctt following the announcement.

Leonard instrumental to Clippers playoff run

Leonard suffered the injury during Game 4 of the Western Conference semi-final between the the Clippers and Utah Jazz, forcing him to miss his team’s following final eight playoff games in their run to the Conference finals, where they lost the series 4-2 to the Phoenix Suns.

When initially asked about his knee after Game 4 against the Jazz, Leonard responded "It's good, next question," but the Clippers later discovered it was more serious than previously thought.

The Clippers had maintained an official line that the 30-year-old small forward had suffered a “knee sprain”, and he was ruled out on a game-by-game basis, never for the postseason as a whole.

Leonard had played an instrumental role in the Clippers’ playoff run up until his injury setback. In 11 postseason games, the five-time All-Star 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 three-point range.

Before joining the Clippers in 2018, the LA native led his the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors to NBA Championship success in 2014 and 2019, respectively.

Leonard to make decision on €36m player option

Leonard must now decide on a €36 million player option this summer. Should he refuse the option, he would become a free agent ahead of the 2020-21 season.

But considering his history of injuries, he is likely to accept the security of a long-term deal with the Clippers, who face a tough task next season without their star player for at least a sizable part of it.