Kawhi Leonard Breaks Silence On Return To Clippers From ACL Injury

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LOS ANGELES – When the LA Clippers open up coaching camp on Tuesday, Kawhi Leonard might be able to participate alongside his teammates.

Following a 14 month layoff because of a torn left ACL, Leonard says he feels great and is ready to get began.

“The plan is tomorrow to begin training camp,” Kawhi Leonard said at Clippers Media Day, his first availability since final year’s Media Day. “For me individually, I’ll be taking part in coaching camp. Then from there, just seeing how my development is, how I really feel, what I’m not feeling, is it moving accurately, and just keep going from there, simply gradually increase.”

The Clippers remained saved things pretty hush-hush surrounding Kawhi Leonard and his restoration progress. Leonard went down back on June 14, 2021 in Game 4 of the semifinals versus the Utah Jazz. There weren’t many updates on Leonard since then, however the largest information came final week, when President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank said Leonard was cleared for five-on-five basketball.

His first opportunity will come at camp starting Tuesday.

“He is cleared,” Frank mentioned. “For him, he’ll say, ‘I want to do every thing.’ Again, we’ll be very cautious in the approach.

“Basically, Kawhi’s done a lot of controlled basketball for a really long time. Though 5-on-5 is seen to the layman as a benchmark, it’s more complicated than that.”

Head coach Tyronn Lue also stayed mum concerning the plan for Kawhi Leonard.

“I really don’t know,” Lue added. “We’ve received to be smart in regards to the state of affairs, concerning the process. We know he feels great, which is nice news and nice to hear. But we’ve received to take heed to Kawhi’s physique, be succesful of hearken to the medical employees and make sure we’re doing the best factor for Kawhi.

“We’ll know tomorrow. We’ll get a greater gauge of how he feels when he goes through completely different eventualities, completely different conditions on the ground, and then we’ll just kind of gauge it daily.”

The LA Clippers social media team has been dropping pictures and movies of Kawhi Leonard this offseason, and he’s seemed noticeably bulkier. The two-time NBA Finals MVP admits he has gotten stronger over the 14-month layoff.

“I really feel stronger, yeah. I really feel stronger for certain. It’s been, what, 14, 15 months of no basketball — nicely, playing in an NBA season for me, no basketball. That complete 13, 14-month course of is simply lifting, lifting weights and getting stronger. I undoubtedly got a lot stronger.”

Does the energy imply we’ll see a different Leonard out there?

“I’m undecided. Right now I really feel good in my exercises, weightlifting. I don’t feel like — I would say I really have a subconscious thoughts of not leaping off my leg per se. I really feel good. We’ll just see how the season goes.

“And yeah, can’t actually inform you how that’s going to work out.”

Over Leonard’s 14 months away from the NBA court docket, the Clippers earned the eighth seed within the West, but dropped their play-in games to the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans. Their 42-40 season ended sooner than anybody ever expected for a team with a profitable report, but it was a learning experience. The roster improved, Players got to develop, and now, Leonard returns to the team higher than when he left them.

“It was amazing [to watch them last year], especially with some of those comeback wins or some of those video games the place individuals thought they were for sure losses. They got here in and fought exhausting and either strung out the game to be longer than what it was imagined to be or won the game.

“It simply reveals their competitive nature, their mindset, that they didn’t need to surrender. They could have simply laid down and burned the season, but without the play-in tournament, we might have made the Playoffs.

“I think that shows who they are as people, and I assume I might are obtainable in and help with that and help us win more video games. PG is wholesome, we’ve received John, so we’ve got to see the method it all unfolds, like I stated before.”

The Clippers head to Las Vegas for three days of practices in Sin City. Leonard’s participation throughout these practices will determine what the team does with preseason games. On Thursday, the Clippers follow for the final time in Vegas before heading to Seattle for a pair of preseason video games against Maccabi Ra’anana and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Could Leonard play Friday night? That’s not clear but, however Tyronn Lue confirmed that every player is healthy and out there to go for coaching camp beginning Tuesday evening.

Kawhi Leonard’s progress shall be intently monitored by both the group, media members, and fans. For now, the Clippers and their fans can stay optimistic on Leonard’s quick availability.

“Right now, I feel good, and the plan is to begin camp tomorrow and play.”

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