Clippers unsure if Kawhi and George will return this season
Kawhi Leonard has not played since suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in June and the Los Angeles Clippers don't know if he will play in 2021-22.
The Los Angeles Clippers are not sure if injury-hit pair Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will be able to return to action this season. Two-time NBA Finals MVP Leonard has been out since June with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee which forced him out of last season's playoffs. George meanwhile, has missed the Clippers' past 22 games, having been sidelined with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right shooting elbow since 22 December.
The Clippers made the 2020-21 Conference finals but are 27-27 this season, with injuries taking their toll. President of basketball operations Lawrence Frank conceded he was uncertain whether 30-year-old small forward Leonard would return this season. "I think the best answer is we don't know," he explained. "He grinds every single day. He works. His focus is on his rehab. No one knows. He doesn't know. But all you can do is, just every day, continue to control what you can control and see how he responds."
Clippers head coach Ty Lue had alarmingly mentioned on Thursday that they "know Kawhi's probably not gonna come back," but he moved to clarify that comment. "Hope is stronger than fear," Lue said. "So I'm hoping that these two guys can come back. But you never know."
Seven-time All-Star George is due to undergo an MRI scan on his elbow but Frank said that would dictate his return date. "You don't treat the MRI, you treat the player. When the MRI comes in, it's not a 'boom' that all of a sudden is a 'Eureka' moment for what we do. I think it's just part of the process. I think it's you see how Paul is responding. He's feeling better each and every day. The MRI is another kind of benchmark.I think the doctors put it all together and that's how they come to what the next steps are. My expectation is regardless of what the MRI says, it's just part of it. That's not going to be the ultimate decision-maker in what happens."