PLAYA VISTA — The Los Angeles Clippers have been holding down the fort with some key players sidelined, and it would appear that they’re close to a return. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George fully participated in Clippers practice on Friday afternoon with their status for Saturday’s game against the Sacramento Kings to be determined.
“I’m scared,” head coach Tyronn Lue said of having Kawhi Leonard and Paul George back. “It’s not going to be a traditional practice. It’s going to be more so cleaning up, just teaching. Nothing live or nothing like that. So just to make sure we can, you know, stay as healthy as we are right now.”
Luke Kennard also fully participated in Clippers practice, but will not be playing against the Kings. Norman Powell will not be participating in practice and will not be playing Saturday as well.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George dressed here at Clippers practice, where they will fully participate and are questionable tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/59CY1Gtbg6
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) December 2, 2022
Just the idea of a fully healthy team in the near future has Ty Lue giddy.
“Yeah, I’m excited,” Lue added. “I think we’ve only had our whole team, I think what, for two games. I think the Laker and the Phoenix game and so with all the talent we have, just trying to get rotations right who plays well with who and just trying to get a good feel, a good sample size of what we actually have. I’m excited to get guys back, PG and Kawhi, get Luke back, but now we gotta wait on Norm so, hopefully, he feels better soon. But I am very excited just to kind of see what we have.”
Kawhi Leonard has missed the last five games due to an ankle sprain suffered against the Utah Jazz. Leonard initially said he felt fine, but has not played since. On the season, he has played in five games, with the Clippers winning four of those five games. If and when he returns, he’ll continue to be on a minutes limit.
In five appearances so far this season, Kawhi Leonard is averaging 10.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game.
Paul George has missed the last six games for the Clippers with a right hamstring tendon strain. He has participated in multiple pregame shootarounds and Friday’s practice, so his status for Saturday is trending in the right direction.
On the season, Paul George is averaging 23.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.6 steals per game.
Luke Kennard suffered a calf strain against the Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 15 and has missed the last eight games for the Clippers. He also participated in multiple shootarounds and a full practice Friday. Calf strains, however, are tricky, so the Clippers will take their time bringing him back from that.
“They’re gonna do something today and just kind of see how they feel, but both progressing really well. Luke will be out tomorrow, but Kawhi and PG will still be questionable, not sure until we finish up today.”
Norman Powell missed Wednesday’s game against the Utah Jazz with a groin strain. He suffered the injury the night before against the Portland Trail Blazers, a game in which he scored 22 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter to lead the comeback victory. Powell will miss Friday’s practice and all but likely not play in Saturday’s game against the Kings.
Both the Clippers and Kings will come into Saturday’s matchup on two days rest. The Kings won seven games in a row in November before dropping three in a row to the Hawks, Celtics, and Suns.
LA enters Saturday’s game with a 13-10 record, while Sacramento sits at 11-9 on the year.