After advancing to the Western Convention Finals for the first time final season, this 12 months has been an up and down battle for the Clippers with key gamers out and in of the lineup. Kawhi Leonard hasn’t performed a recreation but this season after tearing his ACL within the second spherical of the playoffs towards Utah final 12 months. And now the Clippers have discovered they could possibly be with out their different star participant, Paul George, for the rest of the 2021-22 marketing campaign.
In late December, George suffered a torn elbow ligament and has been sidelined ever since. The Clippers initially introduced that he’d be re-evaluated in three to 4 weeks, however now it seems like they could be with out PG-13 for the remainder of the 12 months.
With George’s standing now up within the air, Kawhi Leonard’s return must also be pushed onto the again burner till the crew is aware of extra about PG’s standing. Bleacher Report reported final week that there’s a “sturdy chance” of Leonard returning to the Clippers roster this season.
Leonard’s return from the ACL harm isn’t more likely to change the Clippers’ standing within the West with out George on the court docket. They’re at present in seventh place, tied with the Lakers at 21-21. With George within the lineup, they had been in a position to keep afloat within the high six of the convention by way of December.
A Leonard return in March or April gained’t be sufficient to jump-start this crew previous the highest groups within the western convention. Phoenix, Golden State, Memphis, and Utah are all higher than the Clippers. Kawhi coming again knocking the rust off over the primary couple of weeks gained’t be sufficient for the Clippers to advance within the postseason.
Leonard’s harm historical past and the actual fact he’s in no hurry to return till he feels he’s 100% wholesome are nicely documented. So, even when Kawhi says he’s prepared, the Clippers ought to sit him down for the 12 months if George can’t return at close to 100% this season. So, if it seems to be like George isn’t going to be again earlier than the top of March, then I’d go forward and shut each guys down and look to subsequent 12 months.
We;llKevin Durant may have returned from his Achilles harm through the 2019-20 pandemic 12 months as soon as the NBA despatched everybody to the Orlando bubble. KD opted to not rush something and continued sitting till the following season (lower than three months later), and he got here again at one hundred pc and balled out. Leonard is barely 30 and within the prime of his profession, though generally it looks like he’s already 35. When he’s proper and largely wholesome, Kawhi continues to be a top-five participant and a fairly rattling good two-way participant.
Realizing Leonard’s historical past presents all of the extra purpose for LA to be cautious about his return as a result of we all know he’ll. And if George isn’t returning anytime quickly, there actually is not any purpose to press for a Leonard return. The Clippers haven’t any actual shot at beating the Suns or Warriors with out Kawhi and PG on the court docket. Relying on the matchup, they won’t get out of the primary spherical with out each gamers. I do know followers hate listening to this, however each gamers have a protracted historical past of unhealthy accidents at this level, and even pondering speeding both man again simply to get bounced within the first spherical appears preposterous.
This Clippers squad lastly broke by way of final 12 months and obtained bit by the harm bug within the course of with Leonard taking place towards Utah. That appears to have carried over into this season with George now being out for an prolonged interval. We should always know extra about each gamers within the coming weeks, but when I needed to guess I’d say we most likely gained’t see the Leonard-George tandem once more for fairly some time. That call could be what’s greatest for Ballmer’s enterprise proper now.