Kawhi Leonard may be out for an extended period of time this season, but he hasn’t been completely ruled out. Multiple sources have revealed that as of right now, Kawhi Leonard is ahead of schedule with his ACL tear rehab.
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Team sources have told AllClippers that those on the team are “cautiously optimistic” about Leonard returning, as Ramona Shelburne also reported, but the Clippers are going to remain very cautious about his return. If staff doctors see any reason to shut Kawhi Leonard down, they will have no hesitancy in doing so. As of right now, those red flags don’t exist. Kawhi Leonard himself didn’t shut down any doors to returning this season, as he stated on media day, “I wanted to be able to come back if I was able to this year.”
Andrew Greif: Tyronn Lue says the approach with Kawhi is just to take his time. “For the status of Kawhi, we don’t know. … We’ve got to approach the season like we don’t have him.”
Ballmer admits he has often thought of what could’ve been if Leonard hadn’t gotten hurt. “It was painful,” Ballmer said. “Painful for Kawhi, painful for our team, painful for me and, most importantly, painful for our fans. But yeah, we gave it a go. We gave it a good go. We managed to push past Utah, even without Kawhi. “I was proud of our guys. We were within a whisker or two of taking care of business in the Western Conference finals, even without Kawhi. We’ll see when we get him back, but we basically have most of the same team back for next year. … I remain optimistic.”
It’s been two months since since Leonard had offseason surgery on his right knee. Is there any chance he plays this upcoming season? “Nobody knows at this stage,” Ballmer said. “Nobody knows. It’s possible. For sure, it’s possible. But it will depend on what the doctors say and what Kawhi says.”
Andrew Greif: Clippers president Lawrence Frank, post-draft, acknowledged Kawhi Leonard’s recovery will take “a great deal of time.” The team wants its relationship with the star to also last a very long time: latimes.com/sports/clipper…
Law Murray: Lawrence Frank on Kawhi Leonard: “Right now our focus is on his health. He had major surgery. He tore his ACL. So it’s gonna require a great deal of time and more support.”
For something like a partial ACL tear, diagnosing that was important. What are the differences between knee sprains that affect the ACL ligament? DR. NGUYEN: So the grading scale is more of a guideline. Grade ones and grade threes are relatively straightforward in terms of treatment. The grade ones, usually non-operative, the grade threes are typically operative for elite athletes. Basketball players and soccer players, football players, are required to do a lot of cutting and pivoting.
The grade twos are where you kind of get into the gray zones. There are some patients where the instability that the patients feel, depend on how ACL dependent they are. There are people who have ACL tears and don’t feel any instability. There are people who have ACL tears, and they feel very unstable. So from a clinical perspective, you have to analyze how unstable their knee is objectively and subjectively. So if a patient says that their knee is unstable, even with a partial ACL tear, then typically they need surgery to stabilize that and reconstruct the ACL. But if they’re not clinically unstable, meaning that the knee feels stable, and they don’t have any symptoms from it, there are times where people can be treated non operatively, and rehab and play sports without any issues. So it really depends on the patient.
In such cases as Kawhi Leonard, he probably felt some instability, and they probably had some objective findings of instability, even with a partial ACL tear. Which is why they decided to do surgery. The question next, if you decide to do surgery, is what kind of surgery are you going to do?
Partial ACL tears can be categorized as tears in the anteromedial bundle, or tears in the posterolateral bundle. Those are the two main bundles that occur, that the ACL fiber has. And typically, the anteromedial bundle tears, but they can both tear. If the remaining fibers are competent, meaning that they’re stable and are strong enough to function like a normal ACL, then you could do a partial or single-bundle ACL reconstruction, where you just reconstruct or repair the bundle that’s torn. And those are different techniques that are involved in that. More often, however, the remaining bundle fibers are not competent and not functioning. So even with a partial ACL tear, the remaining fibers don’t work. And so you end up doing a full reconstruction like normal.
Now, when you say recover quicker: In a case like Kawhi, because his injury happened on June 14 and surgery on July 13, where would you realistically put a timetable on his return to play? It depends on the type of surgery that he had. If it was a full ACL reconstruction, you’re looking at the regular time period for recovery, which is typically 6-9 months. Sometimes up to a year. If it was a low-grade partial ACL tear, and they did an ACL repair or an ACL augmentation with an orthobiologic supplementation, then possibly the recovery could be quicker. Maybe even 3-6 months, as opposed to the nine months to a year timeline. But again, it depends on the type of procedure that was done, and what the original injury and severity of the original ACL tear was.
Adam Aaronson: Woj says he’s gotten no indication that Kawhi Leonard is interested in leaving the Clippers. Says the Clippers are acting with Kawhi being on the roster in mind. But… “There’s an expectation that he could miss next season.”
The announcement Tuesday “does leave numerous question marks” about the nature of Leonard’s surgery and his return to the court, said T.O. Souryal, a former two-term president of the NBA’s association of team physicians and the Dallas Mavericks’ team doctor for 22 years. Souryal, now an orthopedic surgeon at and medical director of a Texas sports medicine clinic, said he had seen a “true partial ACL tear less than a handful of times.”
“Think of the ACL, which is the main stabilizer of the knee, as a rope, because it is made up of fibers made up very much like a rope is,” Souryal said. “In my experience of well over 5,000 ACL injuries, it’s either torn or it’s not. Very rarely are a few fibers torn and the remainder is intact. Extremely rare. “The big question then becomes what does one do orthopedically with the remaining ACL? Are there enough fibers left that the knee is stable, or is it perhaps a ticking time bomb and you wonder when the remaining fibers will go? On the rare occasion that there is a partial ACL tear, the treatment is typically an ACL reconstruction.”
Both Souryal and Alan Beyer, the executive medical director at Orange County’s Hoag Orthopedic Institute, called a full reconstruction, in which the damaged ACL is replaced with a tendon from usually the patella, quadriceps or hamstring, the “gold standard” of ACL repair and easily the most common route. A return time is typically between nine and 12 months, though some athletes have returned sooner. Beyer, who also is an orthopedic surgeon, said that newer possibilities for repairing partially torn ACLs had emerged in recent years, such as inserting a type of bridge with the hope the torn tendon could be stabilized and regrow. But he added that any such operations have little data supporting their outcomes, making it difficult to project their efficacy on an elite athlete.
“You don’t do this operation to get him back quicker, you do this operation because you think it’s going to be less long-term morbidity, in that you’re not sacrificing another one of his tissues to function as an ACL,” said Beyer, who, like Souryal, had not consulted with either the Clippers or Leonard about the surgery. “We don’t have a large number of long-term success stories that we can say ah-ha, this works, when this is the presenting picture. It is a little bit of a risk that it’s not going to work as well as if you’d just bitten the bullet and done a conventional ACL reconstruction.”
One executive I spoke to following the announcement that Kawhi had surgery to repair the partially torn ACL said he thinks no matter what, Kawhi would opt out, especially given the fact that Kevin Durant got the max after he suffered a ruptured Achilles. That executive also noted that Kawhi’s going to hit the 10-year mark for his years of service, which plays a role in upping his max contract as well.
Chris Haynes: Los Angeles Clippers announce Kawhi Leonard underwent surgery to repair a partially torn ACL.
Marc Stein: No established timetable for Kawhi Leonard’s return, Clippers say. Leonard has a player option for next season to return to the Clippers … or he can opt for free agency.
Mirjam Swanson: Just in from the Clippers:
Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard has been ruled out of the remainder of the Western Conference finals series against the Phoenix Suns, league sources said.
However, Leonard could still play in the NBA Finals, should the Clippers advance, as he has not been ruled out for the rest of the season. He has been rehabbing the injury in L.A. and is progressing in his recovery.
NBA TV: “Kawhi Leonard is not ruling out a return at all during this postseason.” @Chris Haynes provides an update on Kawhi ahead of Game 6.
JD Shaw: The Clippers are listing Ivica Zubac (right knee MCL sprain) as questionable to play in Game 6 tomorrow. Kawhi Leonard and Serge Ibaka remain out.
Marc Stein: The Clippers just announced that Kawhi Leonard (right knee sprain) is officially out for Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.
Mark Medina: Clippers coach Ty Lue said Kawhi Leonard won’t play in Game 5 tomorrow and will stay in LA
Kawhi Leonard is “highly unlikely” to fly with his Los Angeles Clippers teammates to Phoenix for Game 5 on Monday, sources told Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports. “The elevation wouldn’t be good for his knee,” said Haynes. Haynes added that “there is still no definitive word” on Leonard’s status.
Law Murray: Paul George: “I can’t speak on the health of Kawhi.” Says that if he’s not 100 percent, it wouldn’t be good for Leonard to be out there. Says concern for his health is the top priority there.
Mirjam Swanson: As Ty Lue mentioned, Kawhi Leonard (knee) and Serge Ibaka (back surgery) are officially out for Game 4. Marcus Morris Sr. isn’t listed on the Clippers’ injury report, but Lue said it could again be a game-time call before it’s decided whether he plays on an ailing knee.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Ty Lue says Kawhi Leonard remains out for Game 4. Marcus Morris will be a game-time decision again. Lue said it wasn’t until like 20-30 minutes before Game 3 that they knew Morris would be able to go.
Mark Medina: Clippers coach Ty Lue still no more updates with Kawhi Leonard other than he’s out tonight for Game 3
Marc J. Spears: Kawhi Leonard, Right Knee Sprain, listed out for Game 3 by Clippers.
Marc Stein: The Clippers have officially ruled Kawhi Leonard (right knee sprain) out of Tuesday’s Game 2 of the Western Conference finals in Phoenix.
Mark Medina: Clippers coach Ty Lue on Kawhi Leonard’s progress with rehab: “I really don’t know. I just get the updates that he’s out today. I just move on from there. I don’t want to question ‘When’s he coming back, or how long? Is he playing tomorrow? Is he playing tonight?’ Okay. Move on.”
Mark Medina: Clippers coach Ty Lue said Kawhi Leonard is out for Game 2. He added Marcus Morris Sr. “is still experiencing soreness” and “getting treatment around the clock.” His status unclear for Game 2
Mirjam Swanson: Ty Lue says he talked with Kawhi 40 minutes ago, says his star is engaged and wants to know what adjustments they’re gonna make, etc. even while rehabbing back home.
NBA Central: “He’s doing everything he can to get back as fast as possible.” – Reggie Jackson on Kawhi Leonard (h/t @TomerAzarly ) pic.twitter.com/6fOBnqwLwE
Law Murray: Tyronn Lue says Clippers can’t worry about a potential Kawhi Leonard return and are preparing as if he won’t be available for WCF. But he won’t say that Leonard is ruled out for Game 2.
Andrew Greif: Kawhi Leonard is ruled out for Game 1 of the WCF, per the Clippers.
Chris Haynes: Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard (knee) will not travel with the team to Phoenix to continue rehabbing at home, league sources tell @YahooSports, @NBAonTNT.
Law Murray: Tyronn Lue says that Kawhi Leonard is definitely out for Game 6.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Ty Lue says no update on Kawhi Leonard’s sprained knee.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Paul George said while it is a blow not having Kawhi, George tried to look at it from a positive for Kawhi, saying that Kawhi might be able to get some rest, Clips hopefully can keep things afloat until he returns and “he has a new baby boy, a lot of love for him and his family.”
Mirjam Swanson: Ty says Kawhi is a “little down” because he wanted to be there for his guys … adds that there’s no potential return, waiting for testing and “go from there.”
Law Murray: Tyronn Lue says that Kawhi Leonard traveled with the team, then flew back to Los Angeles.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Told that people are counting the Clippers out now with Kawhi Leonard out, Ty Lue said, “I’ve been counted out my whole life… not really worried about the chatter. We were counted out in the first series as well.”
Mark Medina: Clippers coach Ty Lue said team “is being optimistic” about Kawhi Leonard’s right knee injury
Mirjam Swanson: Tyronn Lue on Kawhi’s injury, team vibe: “Just know he has a right knee sprain — being optimistic about the situation. We understand it’s part of the game, it’s tough that it happened — all season long, we’ve been having a next-man-up-mentality.”
Mirjam Swanson: Quin Snyder on playing a Kawhi-less Clips: “Obviously sympathies, wish him a speedy recover. … the personal component always trumps that (competitive component).”
Eric Walden: Quin Snyder, on the Clippers adjusting without Kawhi: “No one in the world isolates at the nail better than he does. … But teams respond. And they’ll respond. Everybody playing at this time of year understands there’s a next-man-up mentality.”
Andrew Greif: With the Clippers preparing for Game 5 in Utah tonight, was told that Kawhi Leonard remains in Los Angeles while nursing his injured right knee.
LeBron James: 🙏🏾 to the 🖐🏾Klaw
Andrew Greif: Mike Conley on Kawhi: “First off that’s not news you want to hear at any point. … You feel for anyone with an injury. … It’ll be a tough situation for them.”
Shams Charania: Clippers fear All-NBA star Kawhi Leonard has suffered an ACL injury, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium . He is out indefinitely.
While the Clippers won their second straight game in blowout fashion to give them all the momentum, Tyronn Lue’s team heads to Utah with some concern over Leonard’s health. The Clippers’ franchise player came up gimpy after driving to the basket while being fouled by Joe Ingles with 5:25 left in the game. Leonard leaned over before briefly grabbing his right knee. Leonard left the contest with 4:35 remaining and did not return. “I’m good,” Leonard would only say when asked about his knee. “Next question.” Lue believes Leonard will be fine for Wednesday’s pivotal Game 5 in Salt Lake City. “Yeah, I think so,” Lue said. “We’ll know more after the game, but yeah, I think everybody is pretty good.”
Mirjam Swanson: Kawhi says: “I feel good. I’ll be ready to go.”
In his first game back after missing the previous five games due to right foot soreness, Leonard had 16 points, six assists and five rebounds in 30 minutes in the LA Clippers’ 110-104 loss to the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. “I’m feeling good,” Leonard said in his first comments since April 9. “We took the proper steps to get me right, to make sure nothing significant is wrong with me … so hopefully we can just keep moving up from here.”
When asked if he will have to play through this foot injury for the remainder of the season, Leonard said the issue is not something that just developed after the last time he played against Minnesota on April 18. “Yeah, I mean, I’ve been doing it,” Leonard said. “It’s not something that just occurred after the last game. But I’ll be all right. I’ve been through situations like this before.”
Andrew Greif: Will Kawhi Leonard play tomorrow against Denver? “Hope so,” Ty Lue said. The team will see how he looks and moves today.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Kawhi Leonard will play today against Minnesota.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Ty Lue says Kawhi Leonard (foot) is OUT tonight.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Ty Lue says the team is leaning toward the cautious side with holding Kawhi Leonard out due to a foot issue. Leonard will sit out his third straight game tonight and is considered day-to-day by Lue.
Mirjam Swanson: Clippers will be without Kawhi tomorrow in Indy, he’s OUT with a sore right foot. Serge (back) and Pat Bev (hand) also are out, of course. Everyone else is available.
Andrew Greif: Kawhi Leonard is questionable to play vs. Washington, Clippers say, because of back spasms that sidelined him vs. Boston. Marcus Morris (concussion) is doubtful. Patrick Patterson (personal reasons) is out.
Mirjam Swanson: Tyronn Lue on the Clippers’ absent trio, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Patrick Beverley: “They’re doing better.” On Pat: “Just being cautious and holding him out of back to backs.”
Kristina Pink: Clippers Injury Report tonight vs Miami: Paul George (Bone Edema Right Toe), Kawhi Leonard (Left Lower Leg Contusion), and Patrick Beverley (Rest-Healthy) are all OUT.
Jamie Hudson: Clippers Injury Report: Kawhi Leonard (mouth; laceration) is questionable; Marcus Morris Sr. (right knee; soreness) is out vs. Blazers tonight
A bloodied Kawhi Leonard was forced from the LA Clippers’ game at the Denver Nuggets in the fourth quarter Friday night after a collision with a teammate left him needing eight stitches to treat a mouth laceration. Serge Ibaka was going up for a defensive rebound when his elbow collided with Leonard’s face, immediately sending the All-Star forward to the floor. Leonard bled profusely from his mouth as he was treated on the court, before being helped back to the locker room with 6:07 left in the game.
“Really worried,” George said. “I was thinking of the worst. I didn’t know if he was concussed or how hard of a hit [it was] or what actually happened, because I didn’t see it. I just saw him laying on the ground. That was first and foremost, just making sure he was OK.”
For the second straight media availability, head coach Doc Rivers was non-committal when asked about Leonard’s health status and the team’s plan with his injury management. “I don’t know that yet,” Rivers said of Leonard’s limitations with minutes and back-to-backs. “But no limits. Kawhi is healthy, for the most part. That still doesn’t mean that we don’t want to maintain him and get him through the first eight games and get ready for the playoffs. We want to be smart about this. Not just for Kawhi. It’s with everybody. “But having everybody healthy was more about training camp. I mean, we really did not have a great training camp because we didn’t have enough bodies and enough of our key guys practicing. We have a virtually new team so we needed our new guys to be on the floor, and we didn’t have that ability to do that. This time, for the most part, we’ll have everybody in.”
But Leonard has become the inadvertent poster boy for load management, and any mystery regarding his status only fuels speculation. For now, the specifics of his health remain a mystery — remember, Rivers qualified Leonard’s health with “for the most part,” which leaves room for interpretation — and this storyline isn’t going away until games resume and there is a greater sense of where he’s at physically.
Andrew Greif: The Clippers say Kawhi Leonard is questionable to play tomorrow vs. Minnesota with lower back tightness. Also, Derrick Walton Jr. is questionable with an elbow contusion.
After missing the previous three games, LA Clippers All-Star Kawhi Leonard is planning to play in his first game with Paul George against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, league sources told ESPN.
Andrew Greif: Kawhi Leonard remains listed as questionable to play Wednesday against Boston. He’s missed the last three games with a left knee contusion.
Andrew Greif: Doc Rivers said Kawhi Leonard was “close” to playing tonight but instead he’ll miss a third consecutive game after knocking knees vs. Houston.
Shams Charania: Evaluations on Clippers star Kawhi Leonard did not show any further seriousness to left knee contusion, and he is day-to-day in return, league sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Ramona Shelburne: Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard will miss Monday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, sources told ESPN. Leonard hasn’t played since suffering a left knee contusion in the second half of the Clippers loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.
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November 29, 2021 | 6:28 pm EST Update
Shams Charania: Reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic will return to lineup tonight for Nuggets vs. Heat after missing four games due to wrist sprain.
Adam Spolane: Stephen Silas says he and Rafael Stone met with John Wall yesterday and Wall has indicated he wants to play. Wall has started the process of getting into game shape. Silas says his ramp up will take at least a couple of weeks. He’s been doing individual workouts
Salman Ali: Stephen Silas on if he wants John Wall to return: “If he’s able to play, yeah. It has to be good for everybody though. It has to be good for the organization and it has to be good for our group. There’s more to it.”
November 29, 2021 | 6:18 pm EST Update
Harrison Faigen: Frank Vogel says Trevor Ariza is “getting closer” but he’s “still a ways away” and the team is not putting a timetable on it.