The health status of Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard was a huge storyline in the Western Conference Finals, with rumors of a possible serious ACL injury and the Clippers downplaying it by making him seem day-to-day. Leonard suffered the knee injury in the Clippers’ second-round series against the Utah Jazz, and proceeded to miss the team’s eight remaining playoff games (they lost to the Phoenix Suns in six games).
Well, on Tuesday, the Clippers announced that Leonard had a partial right ACL tear, and he underwent surgery for it on Tuesday.
The Clippers announce that Kawhi Leonard has undergone surgery to repair a partial tear of his right anterior cruciate ligament: pic.twitter.com/eMoMe0Kq4v
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 14, 2021
So, Leonard was surely never going to play in a postseason game even if the Clippers advanced deep into the Finals, despite the day-to-day suggestions. And now we wonder about his status for the 2021-22 NBA season. As the Clippers’ statement say, “There is no timetable for his return.”
Leonard, 30, has a $36 million player option for the 2021-22 season, so it will be interesting to see if this injury impacts that decision. He’d potentially be the top player available if he opts out of the contract with the Clippers, but teams may also have concerns about his health, timetable, and effectiveness heading into next season. This injury may increase the chances he returns to the Clippers, and he still has the opportunity to be an unrestricted free agent ahead of the 2022-23 season.
The two-time NBA Finals MVP (but never with the Clippers, of course) averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and a 26.0 Player Efficiency Rating this season. And he’s always a menace on the defensive side of things, making him as good of a two-way player as we’ve seen in this era.