It took a few extra days, but Kawhi Leonard is finally with the LA Clippers and will practice for the first time on Monday with the team. He didn’t travel with the Clippers to Orlando last week, as he attended to a personal family matter.
He’s back, and he’s ready to go for the re-start of the NBA season. “I feel good,” Leonard said to the media on Monday afternoon. “I was able to workout and prepare for this moment. I’m excited.”
Doc Rivers spoke with the media on Monday as well, saying there will be no limits on Leonard’s play, however, they’ll make sure they’re smart about it.
“Kawhi’s healthy, for the most part,” Rivers said. “That doesn’t mean 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.”
Having last played an NBA game in March, it’s been a unique and different experience for NBA players. Leonard says he was treating this quarantine like a regular NBA off-season.
“You usually have three months then come in for training camp,” he said. “That’s pretty much the mindset. You only get eight games to get ready for the postseason. Just take that same timeline to prepare yourself. everyone knows their body and what they need to do. We’re going to see how I feel and go from there and build off that.”
When he was asked if this years NBA champion will have an asterisk next to their name, Leonard said that there shouldn’t be, it’s just how the layout is for 2020. “It’s not like a regular NBA season,” he said. “Nobody’s life is how they planned it to be at this point. Take it for what it is. Everybody is happy that a championship will be crowned this year. If that’s the 2020 championship, we want it. This is what the layout is. Just go out there and complete this journey.”
On Monday, Russell Westbrook announced that he has the coronavirus prior to the Rockets leaving to Orlando. The NBA also announced that two out of 322 tested players on the Disney campus were positive and were sent home to isolate.
Although players are still contracting the virus, Leonard is hopeful that they’ll be able to finish the NBA season. “It’s no surprise that someone got it in a bubble,” Leonard said. “You bring in so many people from different cities and states. It’s no control over it. We’re doing the best we can. Who knows what’s going to happen. All we can do is try to stay optimistic about it and be positive.”