The Los Angeles Clippers are set to face Rudy Gobert and the Utah Jazz at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Friday 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 Jazz?

Is Clippers star Kawhi Leonard playing vs. Jazz?

So far, the Clippers have a 36-36 record through 72 games without the two-time NBA Finals MVP. The latest report from Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes is that Leonard underwent a rigorous, one-hour workout ahead of the team’s game against the Golden State Warriors on March 8.

“Kawhi Leonard participated in a rigorous pregame workout that lasted well over an hour today. I was told it was his first extended workout performed in front of media members. From my observation, he had zero limitations. But, still, the Clippers are being cautious and still aren’t issuing a timetable on him or Paul George. I spoke to coach Lue, and he told me if he can’t get his guys back for games in the regular season, then it wouldn’t be safe for them to return in the playoffs.”

Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue has said a number of times that there are no updates on Kawhi Leonard, and even got a little heated recently when asked about it for the third day in a row.

“[They’re] feeling good,” Lue said, visibly irritated. “Man, I’m tired of hearing this shit. When they’re playing, I’ll let y’all know. I’m tired of talking about them every day. We can’t win a game, but we gotta talk about Kawhi/PG. Talk about the guys in the locker room that’s fighting and clawing every single day,” Lue said. “We miss [Kawhi Leonard and Paul George] like hell, but there’s nothing we can do about it, so, let’s focus on our guys playing every single night and giving everything they got.”

Kawhi Leonard underwent surgery to repair the partial tear of his right anterior cruciate ligament on July 13, 2021. It has been a little over eight 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:

According to NBA on TNT, Leonard was doing explosive box jumps on Nov. 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.”

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On Dec. 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 to make it happen. There’s still some ways to go until both his medical team and the training staff clear him, but a return in April can’t be ruled out despite it not looking good for Leonard.

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.

“Just trying to get healthy is what’s next,” Leonard said on Media Day 2021. “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.”

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 elbow injury. George has undergone a number of evaluations since being ruled out on Christmas Day 2021. Paul George has begun shooting with his right arm, which is a good sign for the star.

Unfortunately, there’s still no timetable on his return. At this point with only 10 games left in the regular season, the returns of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George appear to be races against time.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski recently reported that Paul George has a chance to return this season, and there’s a “far less likelihood” that Kawhi Leonard returns this season.

As the Clippers prepare to take on the Jazz for the third time this season, the question is answered … for now. Is Kawhi Leonard playing tonight? No.