The LA Clippers are in good shape for a team that hasn’t had its two stars for the majority of the season: they’re just two games under .500 with a record of 29-31, which, this season, is good enough for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. That being said, there’s still a high level of anticipation surrounding the statuses of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard, who re-signed with the Clippers on a four-year, $176.3 million contract in August, has yet to play this season after he underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in July. The hope remains that he’ll make his regular season debut in March or April, but according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, that timeline is more realistic for George (h/t Clippers reporter Justin Russo):
Paul George, who has been sidelined for almost two months, is set to have an MRI on his right elbow on February 24th. And if all is clean, sources told me they expect the star to go through approximately a two-week ramp-up period. If there are no setbacks, George could return as early as the second week of March.
Going with the assumption that George doesn’t suffer any setbacks between now and when he’s scheduled to re-evaluated on Feb. 24, he could return with aprroximately 10 games left in the season. That number may decrease if George is held out of back-to-backs initially, but either way, that would give him almost a month to shake the rust off for the postseason.
If Goerge isn’t cleared to play, or the Clippers just decide they don’t want to jeopardize the long-term health of their superstar tandem, then obviously expectations will be tempered for the postseason, but nothing about this year’s Clippers team suggests they’ll roll over with George and Leonard out — they’ll stay competitive so long as they have the bodies too. For the Clippers’ sake, though, let’s hope those bodies include George and Leonard.