Kawhi Leonard might be able to return to the court earlier than expected after tearing his ACL in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz in June.
The Los Angeles Clippers star is reportedly ahead of schedule with his ACL tear rehab, according to Sports Illustrated’s Farbod Esnaashari. However, the Clippers are in no rush to bring him back.
Leonard had surgery on July 13, and he could return to practice in March or April, league sources indicated to Esnaashari. The Clippers are impressed with his progress but understand how far away his return is.
Clippers president Lawrence Frank said last week that he’s unsure when Leonard will play again, saying, “You just attack it day by day, he has a very detailed plan with a great group, and we’ll just let his body and the doctors tell us when it’s the right time.”
The Athletic’s David Aldridge added, “There’s little chance Leonard sees the floor during the regular season, at the very least.”
Leonard signed a four-year, $176.3 million deal with the Clippers last month after declining his option to enter free agency. He was brilliant for the franchise when healthy last season, averaging 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game while shooting 51.2% from the field and 39.8% from deep.
With the five-time All-Star unavailable, the Clippers will rely heavily on Paul George to lead a group that includes Eric Bledsoe, Nicolas Batum, Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris and Terance Mann.