Kawhi Leonard had 5 on 5 drills as the Clippers stayed cautious

Kawhi Leonard hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2021 playoffs.

PLAYA VISTA, California. The Los Angeles Clippers revealed their optimism before the season once the chief executive addressed the biggest variable that will determine the team’s fortunes in the championship.

the topic? Nothing but Clippers star Kawhi Leonard and his health after missing the entire 2021-22 season to rehab the surgically repaired ACL in his right knee.

“It feels good,” Clippers’ head of basketball operations, Lawrence Frank, said Thursday at the team’s training center. “His plan is that he wants to be involved in everything.”

Although optimistic about Leonard’s talent, work and recovery habits, the Clippers have other plans. Frank said the Clippers’ medical staff allowed Leonard to compete in five-on-five drills during bootcamp after participating this season in what Frank described as “a lot of controlled basketball.” However, Frank suggested that the Clippers would restrict him to certain parts of the training camp and the 2022-23 regular season.

“We’ll be careful,” Frank said. “It will be a step-by-step approach.”

The Clippers opened their training camp Tuesday in Las Vegas and begin pre-season on September 30th with an exhibition match against Maccabi Raanana at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle. How much Leonard will play in that training or pre-season period remains unknown and Frank was not yet ready to say what Leonard’s workload would look like at that time or in the regular season (when the Clippers have 15 sets in a row).

“We’re not going to make predictions about what he’s going to do or not do, other than I know he wants to do everything,” Frank said. Then we’ll find out, ‘Is that better for his body?’ “Someday it could be. The next day we will have to re-evaluate, but we will depend on the feedback we get from Kohi and the medical team.”

If Kawhi Leonard, who has not dressed since the 2021 playoffs, can return to his dominant two-way game this season, Los Angeles could be a serious contender for the title.

The reason for the Clippers’ caution stems from Leonard’s health, which is likely to be the #1 variable in determining whether the Clippers make a deep playoff (or the NBA Finals) after missing the playoffs last season. Leonard missed the entire 2021-22 regular season as well as two Clipper’s Play-In Tournament matches after that Suffers from a knee injury In Game 4 of the 2021 Clippers Western Conference Semifinals series with the Utah Jazz. From that loss in Game 4 through the end of 2021-22, the Clippers missed 387 games due to injuries and COVID-19. After missing 51 games last season (mostly due to a right elbow injury), Clippers’ Paul George missed the Play-In’s game against New Orleans. After testing positive for COVID-19.

Since then, Frank has described George’s right elbow as “100% healthy” and praised him for having “very purposeful, motivating and productive behavior” with his training and recruiting habits. John Wall as free agent Organizing informal group exercises. Frank became equally cheerful with Leonard on his “all purpose work” which often entailed five hour workouts filled with strength training, on-court drills, and movie-study starting at 7 a.m.

“The same mindset he had in his preparations when he was healthy, he applied to his rehab,” Frank said. “Koohy is thirsty for knowledge and wants to learn all about injury, about rehabilitation and the best ways to do it. You see the daily approach. This is all about winning. It takes it to regain better health than ever before and better than ever.”

Although they are optimistic about Leonard’s return, the Clippers plan to be patient in the final stages of his recovery. Even before his injury at the end of the season, Leonard missed 15 games in 2019-20 and 20 in 2020-21 to treat various ailments and ensure a proper recovery. Should he play on opening night on October 20 against the Los Angeles Lakers (10 ET, TNT), Leonard’s recovery timeline (16-and-a-half months) will be longer than it takes most players to return from an ACL injury (12-15 months). However, clippers are aware of how soft tissue injuries can overcompensate a player’s body if not handled with care.

“There is ongoing communication to find out where he is,” Frank said. “The hardest thing is when a guy really wants to go ahead and try to do everything. You just have to take stock and just have those conversations. What everyone can agree on is ‘What’s the point?’ So what’s the best way to get there?” If he’s close You have to be careful when you come back from such a serious injury.”

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Marc Medina is a writer and senior analyst at NBA.com. You can email him over hereFind his archive over here and follow him on Twitter.

The opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of the National Basketball Association, its clubs, or Turner Broadcasting.

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