The LA Clippers have announced that star forward Kawhi Leonard will miss Tuesday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Leonard will join both Paul George and Marcus Morris on the sidelines.
Kawhi Leonard is OUT tonight due to right knee management.
Clippers down Paul George, Kawhi, and Marcus Morris.
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) October 25, 2022
This comes after Kawhi Leonard played in only one-half of the Clippers first back-to-back set of the season this weekend. Leonard did not play Saturday against the Sacramento Kings, but did suit up on Sunday night against the Phoenix Suns.
Leonard, who is coming off a 15-month absence due to recovery from a torn ACL, worked with the Clippers medical staff, coaching staff, and front office to devise a plan for his return to action. The plan includes not starting games and coming off the bench midway through the second quarter. It allows for Leonard to play the final three periods in spurts and close out games, if needed.
“It’s all about how my knee responds,” Leonard said when asked how long he plans to come off the bench. “We’ll see how it feels tomorrow and then gradually go as time goes forward and I’ll start adding minutes and once I’m ready to play 35 minutes when we come collectively — I think I played 33 minutes when I was healthy — that’s probably when you’ll see me starting. But like I told T-Lue, whatever way with his subs and how he thinks it should go without me affecting the game and causing people to get out of rhythm, I’m all for it. I just wanna win.”
According to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk, Kawhi Leonard was scheduled to play Tuesday but rest Thursday. Leonard then experienced stiffness in his knee, and the Clippers will send him back to Los Angeles on Wednesday to receive treatment on it.
Ty Lue says Kawhi “experienced some stiffness in his knee” so Clippers are sending him back to LA to get treatment and work out there.
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) October 25, 2022
After his season debut against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night, Leonard added that this current plan to come off the bench does not afford him the ability to play back-to-backs.
“You gotta gradually play minutes in order to get the ACL strong,” Leonard added. “Once you start playing 38 minutes first game, it could easily weaken up but I’m listening to the doctor with that. Like I said, it’s a long season. We wanna get in the playoffs and want me to play in the playoffs. These first weeks are not so important but they are but like I said we got players that can fill that role for me.”
With Kawhi Leonard set home to Los Angeles, he’ll miss both Tuesday and Thursday night’s games against the Oklahoma City Thunder. His next chance to return will be Sunday in a matinee game against the New Orleans Pelicans. That game, however, is part of a back-to-back set against the Pelicans and Houston Rockets.
“It’s tough, but we’re gonna have to continue to do it all year with the minute restrictions,” head coach Tyronn Lue said of the plan for Leonard. “Guys in and out, you got a good flow, a good rhythm to extend the game, but then guys gotta come out so it’s hard. It’s hard to manage. It’s hard to play that way as well. We’ve just gotta take what we can get.”
In two appearances this season, Leonard has averaged 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.5 steals in 21 minutes per game on 44.4 percent shooting from the field.