NBA roundtable: Welcome to the world of Kawhi Leonard injury updates
Los Angeles Times reporters Andrew Greif, Broderick Turner and Dan Woike discuss Kawhi Leonard’s injury situation in a roundtable format.
DW: We just had a great talk during our weekly NBA meeting on Zoom about the Clippers and Kawhi Leonard, a talk the bosses decided we should tape and share with the world. Trouble is no one hit the button to record.
So here we go, Round 2 of what we think is happening with the Clippers’ star who may or may not be out for some unidentified amount of time. Vague enough? Welcome to the world of Kawhi Leonard injury reporting.
What are you two thinking?
No timetable has been given by the Clippers for Kawhi Leonard’s return, but he remains a big part of the team’s planning in the Western Conference finals against the Suns.
BT: Not publicly knowing the severity of Kawhi’s injury makes it impossible to project when, or if, he’ll return to play against the Suns in this series. The Clippers are wisely keeping things close to those who need to know and leaving everyone else to wonder if Kawhi will play in Game 3 or 4, or not at all.
Of course, Kawhi knows his body better than anyone and one has to believe that if he were healthy enough to play, that he would be there for his teammates. He understands the magnitude of the situation, knowing that there aren’t any guarantees that the Clippers will be back in this position next season, having a chance to advance to the NBA Finals and play for a championship.
Here are six things the Clippers can do against the Suns to flip Sunday’s 120-114 loss into a win in Game 2 on Tuesday.
AG: Coach Tyronn Lue said on the eve of this series that he’s preparing as if he won’t have Kawhi unless otherwise told. And he didn’t have an update Monday, a day before Game 2, about Leonard’s status.
Is it a surprise that now four games after the initial injury we still don’t have a clearer picture of his timeline? Not to me. Kawhi’s breakup with the San Antonio Spurs showed a player who is very guarded about keeping his health private.
While the Clippers have problems slowing Suns superstar Devin Booker, limiting center Deandre Ayton is another area of concern following Game 1 loss.
DW: I keep thinking about how Kawhi’s injury will impact his offseason (he holds a player option for next season), and I don’t really see how anything has changed for him. The thing with people who don’t make it obvious what they want is that you have to lean on the things you know.
The Clippers still offer him the geography to home that he wanted. They still let his personality be the driving force of the organization. And they do things like this, where they protect his privacy. If this was solely about rings, he’d have been the third star on the Lakers. It was about more than that, and it’s a safe bet that it’s about more now.
The Suns became a contender after going 8-0 in the NBA bubble last fall. Some believe they qualified for the restart along with the Pelicans only because the league wanted Zion Williamson there.
AG: There is, of course, plenty of incentive for the Clippers not to breach Kawhi’s confidence now by saying more than he is comfortable with about the injury. The team has made a strong connection with Leonard over the last two years, and they hope to extend that connection in six weeks, when he will be able to opt out of his contract and sign a new deal.
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