Kawhi Leonard will not be on the upcoming road trip, says Tyronn Lue.— (@FlyByKnite) November 1, 2022
In pre-game media duties before an important win over the Rockets, coach Tyronn Lue said that while Leonard is “getting better”, the stiffness in his knee means it wouldn’t be a good idea for him to return yet. That posed more questions about the progress of the two-time champion’s recovery, as his run without touching the floor will now stretch to at least six games to start the season.
The worries stem from the fact that at no point has the team put a timeframe on the latest injury setback, working game-to-game in a manner which mirrors that of the back end of last season, where Lue was asked weekly at what point in the Clippers’ attempted run to the postseason Leonard would return for. Therefore, fans patiently waiting to see Kawhi back on the court can be forgiven for feeling like this is an all too familiar situation.
While most would have acknowledged that the recovery process wasn’t guaranteed to be smooth or linear in any way, the lack of information surrounding the setback has raised questions about Leonard’s durability and reinforced doubts about whether he’ll be coming back the same player after being out for so long.
However, it’s obviously a time to be patient and have some perspective. Kawhi has had a checkered past in the health department, having reportedly asked to be traded from the Spurs on account of discontent from the franchise and his then-teammates around his management of the situation. The Clippers won’t want a repeat of that same scenario, so they’ll do whatever it takes to make their number one guy as comfortable as he can be.
It may take some time, but there’s no doubt that’s the best route to ensure everybody is happy. It’s on his teammates now to ensure that they don’t take their eyes off the ball or use his absence as an excuse to continue to underachieve at the start of this regular season.
After all, if the Clippers have a solid seeding and the best version of Leonard heading into the postseason, there will be very few fans who would bet against them to be one of the last teams standing.