Kawhi Leonard has been cleared for five-on-five work, according to Clippers president Lawrence Frank. The clearance is amongst the final steps Leonard needs to get through in his recovery after suffering a partially torn ACL in 2021 that prevented him from playing at all during the 2021-22 season.
Lawrence Frank says that Kawhi Leonard is cleared for 5-on-5. Says that he wants to do "everything" but organization is stressing the long game and a methodical approach.— Law Murray 🌚 (@LawMurrayTheNU) September 22, 2022
Frank added that Leonard wants to do “everything” to get back on the court, but the Clippers are committed to “stressing a methodical approach.” When Frank was asked about his expectations for Leonard and the Clippers, he reminded reporters that the team “was playing at a high level” before Leonard went down with his knee injury.
“All we have to do is go back two years ago to Kawhi’s injury against Utah,” Frank said. “And you know, Kawhi was playing the best basketball player in the world — our team was playing at a high level, and unfortunately for Kawhi and for the group, he got injured. So I think with that it just reinforces the urgency you have to approach every single day that nothing’s guaranteed; this League changes quickly. People forget quickly.”
…Our team was playing at a high level and, you know, unfortunately for Kawhi and for the group he got injured. So I think with that it just reinforces the urgency you have to approach every single day that nothing's guaranteed this league, changes quickly. People forget quickly— Law Murray 🌚 (@LawMurrayTheNU) September 22, 2022
Although a Leonard return date is unknown, with the return of Paul George and the addition of John Wall, outside expectations are that the Clippers will be a significant threat to the Warriors repeating as champs for the first time since 2017-2018. Leonard was responsible for stopping the Heat Warriors from three-peating in 2014 and 2019, respectively.
When he was last healthy, Leonard averaged 30.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per game in 11 postseason appearances. Without Leonard and George for most of the season, the Clippers went 42-40 and finished eighth in the Western Conference playoff race. They were denied a playoff appearance after losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves during the play-in tournament.