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How long is Kawhi Leonard out? Injury timeline, return date, latest updates on Clippers star

Sporting News logo Sporting News 4/16/2022 Jordan Greer

The Clippers reached the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history last season. If they want to make it back to that playoff round again, they will likely have to collectively replace the production of their best player.

Kawhi Leonard has been sidelined indefinitely after undergoing surgery in July to repair a partial tear of the ACL in his right knee. Leonard missed the entirety of the 2021-22 regular season, but it's still unknown if he could return at some point during the postseason.

What's next for Leonard? Here's everything we know about his injury and the latest news on when he may return to the court.

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What is Kawhi Leonard's injury?

Leonard suffered a right knee injury during Game 4 of the 2021 Western Conference Semifinals. The two-time NBA Finals MVP came up limping after a drive toward the basket against former Jazz forward Joe Ingles. He ended up sitting the last four-plus minutes of that contest, but in his postgame interview with TNT's Rebecca Haarlow, he said, "I'll be good."

Unfortunately for Leonard, the knee issue was more serious than he thought and ended what had been a spectacular playoff run. The Clippers announced on July 13 that Leonard underwent successful surgery to repair the partially torn ACL, adding that there is "no timetable for his return."

In 52 games last season, Leonard averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.6 steals, earning a spot on the All-NBA First Team.

How long will Kawhi Leonard be out?

When asked about his recovery timeline at the Clippers' media day, Leonard didn't offer a specific date, only telling reporters that he is "working with the staff day to day."

"That's the challenge of it, just seeing how quickly I can get better and stronger I can get than what I was when I'm healthy," Leonard said. "That's where I pretty much turn my mindset to."

The 30-year-old added that he signed a long-term deal to stay in Los Angeles in part because he wants to play this season.

"One thing, I wanted to secure some money, and I wanted to be able to come back if I was able to this year," Leonard said. "If I would've took the one-and-one [deal], I probably would have not played just to be cautious and opted out and took a five-year [deal]. But I'm here. I'm here to be a Clipper. I'm not going to another team unless something drastic happens. I'm here for the long run."

UPDATE (Jan. 6, 2022): Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported that Leonard is "ahead of schedule" in his rehab, adding that a return to the court this season is a "strong possibility."

UPDATE (Feb. 3, 2022): Following the team's win over the Lakers, Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said, "We know Kawhi's probably not gonna come back" this season.

"I don't know," Lue responded when asked to elaborate. "I'm not a doctor. But hope is stronger than fear. So I'm hoping that [Leonard and Paul George] can come back. But you never know."

UPDATE (March 25, 2022): After providing an update on George's status, Lue noted that there was no new information regarding Leonard's recovery. Lue still hasn't ruled out George, Leonard or Norman Powell for the rest of the season.

"To hit the playoffs going at 100, from zero to 100, that is pretty tough," Lue said. "But if the medical guys say they are cleared and they are able to do that, that is totally up to them."

Kawhi Leonard career stats, highlights

  • 19.2 points per game
  • 6.4 rebounds per game
  • 2.9 assists per game
  • 0.6 blocks per game
  • 1.8 steals per game
  • 1.6 turnovers per game
  • 31.3 minutes per game
  • 49.3 percent shooting
  • 38.4 percent 3-point shooting
  • 85.8 percent free throw shooting
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