Welcome to Clippers In Review, where we’ll recap the season for every player that ended the season in Los Angeles. Next up: Kawhi Leonard.
This year’s Clippers season, like it or not, came with an asterisk. That fact was guaranteed the moment Kawhi Leonard’s injury was revealed as an ACL tear last July. And as hopeful as the most romantic Los Angeles Clippers fan allowed themselves to be, the title aspirations surrounding this team were delayed until next year.
To that point, perhaps Paul George’s trip to the league’s health and safety protocols was a blessing in disguise. It allowed the Clippers to shirk the incessant media coverage, avoid rushing back Kawhi before his body is fully healed and risking further injury, and give the players that brought the team this far all season — Reggie Jackson, Nicolas Batum, Terance Mann, and the like — to play the last game the same way. After all, I like my justice the same way I like my lover, poetic.
And more than anything, it allows the team to bide their time for next season. A run by the rag-tag Cinderella Clippers would have been fun, and not to mention incredibly well deserved, but with an eye on the long-term, the ending to the 2021-22 Clippers season may not be all bad.
Now back to Kawhi Leonard. Despite rumors and the occasional workout video tease, the closest Leonard has been to NBA game-time has been in workout gear and street clothes. Still, whether it be giving his teammates accessible insight into an elite basketball mind or giving his fans the occasional but necessary Kawhi-moment, the Fun Guy has been present for the team all year.
And this offseason is no different. The early termination to the Clippers’ season gifted Leonard with six more months to get ready before he’s next expected to suit up. We’ve already been gifted with two (2!) sets of pictures showing Kawhi working out, from the Clippers’ official twitter. And now? The latest addition to Kawhi’s most meme-able moments:
"It ain't coffee... Alkaline, my guy"— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 12, 2022
Kawhi's not much of a coffee guy
(via @LAClippers) pic.twitter.com/n8I8RQ00pI
Looking forward, Leonard is one of seven players that the Clippers have guaranteed under contract all the way through the 2023-2024 season (and he also owns the player option for the 2024-2025 season). As the team’s best player in that bunch, Leonard will undoubtedly be one of the centerpieces for Los Angeles, next season and beyond.