It has been nearly four weeks since Kawhi Leonard suffered a knee injury in the waning minutes of Game 4 of the second round of the playoffs, ending his season prematurely. His status has essentially been in the dark ever since.
Despite rumors flying about the severity of Leonard’s injury, the Clippers merely classified it as a right knee sprain. Furthermore, there were reports prior to Game 6 of the conference finals that Leonard’s availability for the NBA Finals would be re-evaluated should the Clippers make it that far.
However, based on the news released today by the Clippers, such a timetable appears to have been a pipe dream. The team announced Tuesday that Leonard had surgery on his right knee for a partial tear of his ACL. Per the organization, there is no timetable for his return. For what it’s worth, a “sprain” is by definition a small tear, so the Clippers weren’t obfuscating in his initial diagnosis.
Re: Kawhi: Thomas Bryant & Spencer Dinwiddie each missed 60+ games after undergoing surgery for Grade 2 (partial tear) ACL injuries earlier this season. Dinwiddie was cleared for basketball activities ~6 months after surgery. Look for Kawhi’s recovery to carryover into next year.— Jeff Stotts (@InStreetClothes) July 14, 2021
A full ACL tear generally requires a year’s worth of rehab and recovery, but partial tears are less common. Spencer Dinwiddie is a useful point of reference, however. The Nets guard partially tore his ACL on December 27 and didn’t return for the remainder of Brooklyn’s season, which ended on June 19. There was reporting that Dinwiddie was eyeing a return for the Finals, putting his full rehab time at about six months.
It’s worth noting that Leonard has previously suffered significant injuries in his right leg, including right quadriceps tendinopathy that cost him the bulk of the 2017-18 season.
Leonard is eligible to become a free agent if he exercises his player option. He could also opt in and return to the Clippers, and would even be able to sign an extension if he does so.
Best of luck to Leonard in his rehab. Hopefully he’s back on the court in a Clippers uniform as soon as possible.